Ethics and Values

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INSTITUTIONAL ISSUES INVOLVING ETHICS AND JUSTICE – Vol.III – Ethics and Values - Robert Elliot

ETHICS AND VALUES
Robert Elliot
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia Keywords: meta-ethics, normative ethics, applied ethics, ethics, values, sustainability, human-centered ethics, psychocentric ethics, biocentric ethics, intrinsic value. Contents

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1. Introduction
2. Meta-Ethics, Normative Ethics, and Applied Ethics
3. Reason and Objectivity in Judgments about Ethics and Values 4. Ethics, Values, and Sustainability
4.1 Self Interest
4.2 Ethical Considerability and Ethical Significance
4.3 Good and Better, Bad and Worse
5. Varieties of Ethics
5.1 Human-Centered Ethics
5.2 Psychocentric Ethics
5.3 Biocentric Ethics
5.4 The Everything Ethic
5.5 Ecological Holism
5.6 Choosing Between Ethics and Values
5.7 Deciding What Has Intrinsic Value
6. Conclusion
Glossary
Bibliography
Biographical Sketch
Summary

This essay distinguishes three main areas in ethics: meta-ethics, normative ethics and applied ethics. It introduces some basic concepts, including the concepts of ethical considerability and ethical significance, that are useful in thinking about ethics and values and discusses the kinds of moves that feature in rational adjudication of conflicts about ethics and values. The essay shows how rational objectivity can assist the resolution of disagreements about ethics and values. The discussion is conducted in the context of issues arising in environmental ethics, since it is in this domain that many of the concerns relevant to sustainability arise. Various types of environmental ethic are next described and discussed. In the process, key concepts to do with ethics and values are introduced and the styles of argument that are deployed for and against these ethics are described. The emphasis is not on justifying particular conclusions: it is on uncovering the processes of justification that may be used in reflecting on actions and on the policies that governments, as well as other institutional agents, pursue. The essay exemplifies a philosophical or analytic approach to ethics and values, as opposed to a spiritual or religious approach.

©Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS)

INSTITUTIONAL ISSUES INVOLVING ETHICS AND JUSTICE – Vol.III – Ethics and Values - Robert Elliot

1. Introduction

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Many who employ the language of ethics and values have not reflected on the claims they make. They engage in ethical assertion in the public domain, but have not paid attention to the nature of ethics and values, nor have they carefully identified the ethical principles that underpin their comments, and nor have they carefully and consistently applied those principles in practical contexts. Much of what they say is important, worthy of our attention, and provides good direction so far as action and policy is concerned. Such comments and the related injunctions to act would have more force if they were built on a reflective approach to ethics and values; if, that is, they were more sensitive to philosophical analyses of ethics and values. Here, issues concerning environmental ethics and environmental values provide the focus for an introduction to a theoretical consideration of ethics and values. These theoretical considerations aim to clarify a range of ethical and value considerations that, for many, are at the center of the sustainability debate.

2. Meta-Ethics, Normative Ethics, and Applied Ethics

Ethics, as a domain of philosophical inquiry, can be usefully divided into three areas: meta-ethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. Meta-ethics is the investigation of the nature, meaning, and function of ethical judgments. One might wonder whether ethical judgments can be literally true or false and, if they can be, what kinds of facts or...
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