Analysis of “The Ethics of Respect for nature”
By Paul W. Taylor
In this paper, I will be conducting an analysis of the article “The Ethics of Respect for nature” written by Paul W. Taylor. In this paper Taylor presented the foundational structure for a life-centered theory of environmental ethics. The structures according to Taylor are based on three categories which are related. The first part of the structure is called respect for nature. What this section of the article basically talked about was how human being only respects living things. And it also mentioned how if we as human beings were to adapt to the life-centered system of environmental ethics, the way in which we view the world right now will have to have to change we would be caring for nature more than we are now. Taylor argued that, it is the good (well-being, welfare) of individual organisms, considered as entities having inherent worth that determines our moral relations with the Earth’s wild communities of life. In order to prove his argument he was able to relate the argument with the anthropocentric views. In the anthropocentric view, human actions affecting the natural environment and its nonhuman inhabitants are right (or wrong) by either of two criteria: they have consequences which are favorable (or unfavorable) to human well-being, or they are consistent (or inconsistent) with the system of norms that protect and implement human rights. From this human-centered standpoint it is to humans and only to humans that all duties are ultimately owed (James). We as human have no obligation to promote or protect the good of nonhuman living things. The difference between the life-centered system of environmental ethic and the human-centered system of environmental ethic is in life centered system (as noted earlier) we as human will have more duty to the nature. Our duties to respect the integrity of natural ecosystems, to preserve endangered species, and to avoid environmental pollution stem from the fact that these are ways in which we can help make it possible for wild species populations to achieve and maintain a healthy existence in a natural state (Taylor). Our duties with respect to the “world” of nature would be seen as making prima facie claims upon us to be balanced against our duties with respect to the “world” of human civilization. We could no longer simply take the human point of view and consider the effects of our actions exclusively from the perspective of our own good. The evidence that the author used to justify the respect of nature is by making clear the fundamental moral attitude that underlies and makes intelligible the commitment to live by such a system. The second part of the structure is a belief system that constitutes a way of conceiving of the natural world and of our place in it. This belief system underlies and supports the attitude in a way that makes it an appropriate attitude to take toward the Earth’s natural ecosystems and their life communities. This section focuses more on the perception of biocentric outlook on nature. Taylor believed that the biocentric outlook on nature has four components; the first is human are thought of as member of the earth’s community of life, second the earth’s natural ecosystems as a totality are seen as a complex web of interconnected elements, with the sound biological functioning of each being dependent on the sound biological functioning of the others. Third, each individual organism is conceived of as a teleological center of life, pursuing its own good in its own way. And the last component, whether we are concerned with standards of merit or with the concept of inherent worth, the claim that humans by their very nature are superior to other species is a groundless claim and, in the light of elements (1), (2), and (3) above, must be rejected as nothing more than an irrational bias in our own favor (Taylor). To further understand his argument he was able to relate human with other...
Cited: James, Sterba. Morality in Practice. New York: Thomson Wadsworth, 2012. 8th Edition.
Taylor, Paul W. "The Ethics of Respect for Nature." Princeton University Press (1986): 1-22.
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