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Environmental ethics is the discipline in philosophy that studies the moral relationship of human beings to, and also the value and moral status of, the environment and its non-human contents.

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This entry covers: 1 the challenge of environmental ethics to the anthropocentrism i. Suppose putting out natural fires, culling feral animals or destroying some individual members of overpopulated indigenous species is necessary for the protection of the integrity of a certain ecosystem.

Will these actions be morally permissible or even required? Is it morally acceptable for farmers in non-industrial countries to practise slash and burn techniques to clear areas for agriculture? Consider a mining company which has performed open pit mining in some previously unspoiled area. Does the company have a moral obligation to restore the landform and surface ecology?

And what is the value of a humanly restored environment compared with the originally natural environment? If that is wrong, is it simply because a sustainable environment is essential to present and future human well-being?

These are among the questions investigated by environmental ethics. Some of them are specific questions faced by individuals in particular circumstances, while others are more global questions faced by groups and communities. Yet others are more abstract questions concerning the value and moral standing of the natural environment and its non-human components. The former is the value of things as means to further some other ends, whereas the latter is the value of things as ends in themselves regardless of whether they are also useful as means to other ends.

For instance, certain fruits have instrumental value for bats who feed on them, since feeding on the fruits is a means to survival for the bats.

However, it is not widely agreed that fruits have value as ends in themselves. We can likewise think of a person who teaches others as having instrumental value for those who want to acquire knowledge. Yet, in addition to any such value, it is normally said that a person, as a person, has intrinsic value, i. For another example, a certain wild plant may have instrumental value because it provides the ingredients for some medicine or as an aesthetic object for human observers.

But if the plant also has some value in itself independently of its prospects for furthering some other ends such as human health, or the pleasure from aesthetic experience, then the plant also has intrinsic value.

Many traditional western ethical perspectives, however, are anthropocentric or human-centered in that either they assign intrinsic value to human beings alone i. For example, Aristotle PoliticsBk. Generally, anthropocentric positions find it problematic to articulate what is wrong with the cruel treatment of non-human animals, except to the extent that such treatment may lead to bad consequences for human beings.

environmentalism meaning in philosophy

From this standpoint, cruelty towards non-human animals would be instrumentally, rather than intrinsically, wrong. Likewise, anthropocentrism often recognizes some non-intrinsic wrongness of anthropogenic i.What Is Environmental Philosophy? The Greek word 'philosophy' means literally the filial love of wisdom.

But 'wisdom' is not a commonly used word in our society so we need to make some effort to locate its meaning. What is indicated by the tradition in which philosophy seeks wisdom rather than merely knowledge or justified belief?

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While Plato and Aristotle did not agree on the basis of wisdom, they clearly did agree that wisdom is acquired with age and that it transcends mere knowledge about the objects surrounding us in the perceived world. Without stretching the issue too far, I also think it can be said that they agreed that wisdom, in the end, is fundamentally moral.

It is not surprising, then, that contrasting wisdom with knowledge usually finds our examples of wisdom on the side of suggesting how something should be dealt with best.

5 Human Impacts on the Environment: Crash Course Ecology #10

Consider a simple example. The courses in a particular department have been scheduled at specific times and in particular places. There is much in this matter that we can know or at least have justified belief about. We can know the scheduled times and places by reading in the official course schedule; and we can believe that the chair of the department got the assignments to the Registrar of the college on time so that they could be included in the schedule. On the other hand, whether or not the department has acted wisely in making these choices transcends the facts of the matter and requires deeper consideration of many issues.

It should be clear, in saying this, that "acting wisely" means acting for the best. How can we ever know what "acting for the best" is in a given situation? If we carry the example, above, a little further, we can get some ideas. The selection of a particular time for a class might preclude students from taking it. The selection of a particular room might exclude numbers of students wanting to take it, might exclude the possibility of using audio-visual materials, or might not be suitable to the atmosphere of this class.

The character of studies involved might not be appropriate to an early morning time when students and faculty are just getting started.

environmentalism meaning in philosophy

These are just a few of the factors, but we can already see that acting wisely requires us to examine specific choices in much wider contexts.

Most of this examination brings us to other matters of knowledge and belief; thus, wisdom is not something fundamentally different from knowledge and belief. Wisdom is the way we put knowledge and belief together into ever wider contexts of action in order to reach the best choices. Environmental philosophy is a young field that brings together this traditional nurturing of wisdom with a specific interest in the environment. Part of environmental philosophy is, therefore, exploring what we know and justifiedly believe about the environment.While environmentalism focuses more on the environmental and nature-related aspects of green ideology and politics, ecology combines the ideology of social ecology and environmentalism.

The exact measures and outcomes of this balance is controversial and there are many different ways for environmental concerns to be expressed in practice. A concern for environmental protection has recurred in diverse forms, in different parts of the world, throughout history. Jainism offers a view that may seem readily compatible with core values associated with environmental activism, i. His teachings on the symbiosis between all living beings and the five elements— earth, air, fire, water and vegetation—form the basis of environmental sciences today.

At the advent of steam and electricity the muse of history holds her nose and shuts her eyes H. An Alkali inspector and four sub-inspectors were appointed to curb this pollution. In industrial cities local experts and reformers, especially aftertook the lead in identifying environmental degradation and pollution, and initiating grass-roots movements to demand and achieve reforms. It also provided for sanctions against factories that emitted large amounts of black smoke.

The provisions of this law were extended in with the Smoke Abatement Act to include other emissions, such as soot, ash and gritty particles and to empower local authorities to impose their own regulations. Financial incentives were offered to householders to replace open coal fires with alternatives such as installing gas firesor for those who preferred, to burn coke instead a byproduct of town gas production which produces minimal smoke.

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The late 19th century also saw the passage of the first wildlife conservation laws. He observed in Swiss and Siberian glaciers that they had been slowly melting since the dawn of the industrial revolution, possibly making him one of the first predictors for climate change. He also observed the damage done from deforestation and hunting.

We will have no steam engines upon it.

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Bypublic support for the organisation had grown, and it had over 25, members. Original title page of Walden by Henry David Thoreau. In the 20th century, environmental ideas continued to grow in popularity and recognition.

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The commission was also tasked with promoting forestry and the production of timber for trade. By the Forestry Commission was the largest landowner in Britain.Environmentalism is the study of the relationship between living organisms including human beings and natural environments, usually with the aim of preserving natural environments and renewable resources.

Environmentalism is now a multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary field, extending widely into both theory and practice. Environmental philosophy has drawn on many traditions and subfields within philosophy, including: ethics, social philosophy, continental philosophy, aesthetics, and feminism.

Each of these areas refers basic questions about our relation to the environment to fundamental philosophical viewpoints. As mortal beings, we are all dependent on our environments, and a good part of human spirituality is centered on gratitude for how the earth supports human life, as well as the beauty of natural living and nonliving things. Overall, environmentalism has encouraged a reverence for the goods of life and a good life that flows from what is not artificial or man-made and mass-produced.

There are, of course, direct practical human concerns when it comes to environmentalism, as well as quality-of-life issues related to diminishing resources. For example, not all of the multi-disciplinary experts who have studied global warming agree on its dangers or on how much of it is due to human fossil-fuel consumption. Some believe that Earth has had similar changes in temperature before human industrialization. Recent and emerging studies assign high percentages of global warming to the flatulence of domestic animals raised for food which could be considered an indirect human activity.

Sorting out an issue as complex as global warming would require extensive philosophy of science! In more traditional philosophical terms, there are ontological and metaphysical issues involved in what counts as a "unit" in environmentalism.

It is important to define the unit because that defines the subject matter theoretically and makes it possible to keep track of what should be preserved, in practical terms. Is it one animal, a group, an entire ecological niche, a region, a country? The dependence of hu.

Philosophical environmentalists, analyze humanity's relationship to nature BigStock Photos. Since of all the new subjects in philosophy, environmentalism is probably the most popular, it should be noted that the following books are all good sources of additional information: William F.

Devall and G. Naess, Ecology, Community, Lifestyle reprint, ; R. Home Philosophy The handy philosophy answer book. Environmental philosophy What is environmentalism? What, besides ethics, is philosophical about environmentalism? What general philosophical problems does environmentalism pose?

The dependence of hu Philosophical environmentalists, analyze humanity's relationship to nature BigStock Photos.Environmental philosophy is a branch of philosophy that is concerned with the natural environment and humans' place within it. Modern issues within environmental philosophy include but are not restricted to the concerns of environmental activism, questions raised by science and technology, environmental justice, and climate change.

These include issues related to the depletion of finite resources and other harmful and permanent effects brought on to the environment by humans, as well as the ethical and practical problems raised by philosophies and practices of environmental conservation, restoration, and policy in general. Another question that has settled on the minds of modern environmental philosophers is "Do rivers have rights? Environmental philosophy emerged as a branch of philosophy in s.

Baird Callicott. The movement was an attempt to connect with humanity's sense of alienation from nature in a continuing fashion throughout history. Since then its areas of concern have expanded significantly. The field is today characterized by a notable diversity of stylistic, philosophical and cultural approaches to human environmental relationships, from personal and poetic reflections on environmental experience and arguments for panpsychism to Malthusian applications of game theory or the question of how to put an economic value on nature's services.

A major debate arose in the s and 80s was that of whether nature has intrinsic value in itself independent of human values or whether its value is merely instrumental, with ecocentric or deep ecology approaches emerging on the one hand versus consequentialist or pragmatist anthropocentric approaches on the other.

Environmental Ethics

Another debate that arose at this time was the debate over whether there really is such a thing as wilderness or not, or whether it is merely a cultural construct with colonialist implications as suggested by William Cronon. Since then, readings of environmental history and discourse have become more critical and refined.

In this ongoing debate, a diversity of dissenting voices have emerged from different cultures around the world questioning the dominance of Western assumptions, helping to transform the field into a global area of thought.

In recent decades, there has been a significant challenge to deep ecology and the concepts of nature that underlie it, some arguing that there is not really such a thing as nature at all beyond some self-contradictory and even politically dubious constructions of an ideal other that ignore the real human-environmental interactions that shape our world and lives.

Environmental aesthetics, design and restoration have emerged as important intersecting disciplines that keep shifting the boundaries of environmental thought, as have the science of climate change and biodiversity and the ethical, political and epistemological questions they raise. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Main article: Deep ecology.

Environmental Philosophy. Chesham: Acumen. Retrieved Metaphysics Epistemology Logic Ethics Aesthetics. Schools of thought. Mazdakism Mithraism Zoroastrianism Zurvanism. Kyoto School Objectivism Postcritique Russian cosmism more Formalism Institutionalism Aesthetic response. Consequentialism Deontology Virtue. Action Event Process. By region Related lists Miscellaneous.

Portal Category Book. Environmental humanities. Crop art Environmental art Environmental sculpture Land art Landscape painting Photography conservation landscape nature wildlife Sculpture trail Site-specific art Sustainable art.

Cultural ecology Cultural landscape Ecolinguistics Ecological anthropology Ecosemiotics Environmental anthropology Ethnoecology Traditional ecological knowledge. Aesthetics of nature Constructivism Cosmology Critical realism Deep ecology Ecofeminism Ecophenomenology Ecosophy Environmental ethics Environmental justice Environmental philosophy Materialism Natural philosophy Philosophy of mind Philosophy of science Predation problem Social ecology.

Ecotheology Environmental theology Religion and environmentalism Spiritual ecology Stewardship. Anthrozoology Ecomusicology Environmental communication Environmental education adult arts-based Environmental history Environmental interpretation Environmental journalism Environmental law Outdoor education Psychogeography Thematic interpretation.Send us feedback.

See More First Known Use of environmentalismin the meaning defined at sense 1 Keep scrolling for more Learn More about environmentalism Share environmentalism Post the Definition of environmentalism to Facebook Share the Definition of environmentalism on Twitter Time Traveler for environmentalism. See more words from the same year From the Editors at Merriam-Webster. Accessed 21 Jan. Keep scrolling for more More Definitions for environmentalism environmentalism.

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It's amazing! Or is it? We're intent on clearing it up 'Nip it in the butt' or 'Nip it in the bud'? We're gonna stop you right there Literally How to use a word that literally drives some pe Is Singular 'They' a Better Choice? A selection of words from the chillier parts of t Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something a Login or Register. Save Word. Definition of environmentalism. First Known Use of environmentalismin the meaning defined at sense 1.

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Learn More about environmentalism. Share environmentalism Post the Definition of environmentalism to Facebook Share the Definition of environmentalism on Twitter.Concern for the impact on human life of problems such as air and water pollution dates to at least Roman times. Pollution was associated with the spread of epidemic disease in Europe between the late 14th century and the midth century, and soil conservation was practiced in China, Indiaand Peru as early as 2, years ago.

In general, however, such concerns did not give rise to public activism. The contemporary environmental movement arose primarily from concerns in the late 19th century about the protection of the countryside in Europe and the wilderness in the United States and the health consequences of pollution during the Industrial Revolution.

environmentalism meaning in philosophy

In opposition to the dominant political philosophy of the time, liberalism —which held that all social problems, including environmental ones, could and should be solved through the free market—most early environmentalists believed that government rather than the market should be charged with protecting the environment and ensuring the conservation of resources. An early philosophy of resource conservation was developed by Gifford Pinchot —the first chief of the U.

Forest Service, for whom conservation represented the wise and efficient use of resources. Leopold introduced the concept of a land ethicarguing that humans should transform themselves from conquerors of nature into citizens of it; his essays, compiled posthumously in A Sand County Almanachad a significant influence on later biocentric environmentalists.

Environmental organizations established from the late 19th to the midth century were primarily middle-class lobbying groups concerned with nature conservation, wildlife protection, and the pollution that arose from industrial development and urbanization. There were also scientific organizations concerned with natural history and with biological aspects of conservation efforts. Although the United States led the world in such efforts during this time, other notable conservation developments were also occurring in Europe and Oceania.

Despite the diversity of the environmental movement, four pillars provided a unifying theme to the broad goals of political ecology: protection of the environment, grassroots democracysocial justiceand nonviolence.

environmentalism meaning in philosophy

However, for a small number of environmental groups and individual activists who engaged in ecoterrorismviolence was viewed as a justified response to what they considered the violent treatment of nature by some interests, particularly the logging and mining industries. The political goals of the contemporary green movement in the industrialized West focused on changing government policy and promoting environmental social values.

Examples include the Chipko movement in India, which linked forest protection with the rights of women, and the Assembly of the Poor in Thailand, a coalition of movements fighting for the right to participate in environmental and development policies. The early strategies of the contemporary environmental movement were self-consciously activist and unconventional, involving direct-protest actions designed to obstruct and to draw attention to environmentally harmful policies and projects.

Other strategies included public-education and media campaigns, community-directed activities, and conventional lobbying of policy makers and political representatives. The movement also attempted to set public examples in order to increase awareness of and sensitivity to environmental issues.

The electoral strategies of the environmental movement included the nomination of environmental candidates and the registration of green political parties. These parties were conceived of as a new kind of political organization that would bring the influence of the grassroots environmental movement directly to bear on the machinery of government, make the environment a central concern of public policy, and render the institutions of the state more democratic, transparent, and accountable.

The first explicitly green member of a national legislature was elected in Switzerland in ; later, infour greens won legislative seats in Belgium. Green parties also have been formed in the former Soviet bloc, where they were instrumental in the collapse of some communist regimes, and in some developing countries in AsiaSouth Americaand Africathough they have achieved little electoral success there. Although it failed to win representation in federal elections that year, it entered the Bundestag parliament in both andwinning 5.

Throughout the last two decades of the 20th century, green parties won national representation in a number of countries and even claimed the office of mayor in European capital cities such as Dublin and Rome in the mids.

By this time green parties had become broad political vehicles, though they continued to focus on the environment. In developing party policy, they attempted to apply the values of environmental philosophy to all issues facing their countries, including foreign policydefense, and social and economic policies.