Prompt 14

Posted: January 26, 2012 in Uncategorized


The group projects that I am choosing to use in this post are Climate Change and my own, Wilderness preservation 2. I believe that my personal environment ethicist position is that I am an ecological ethicist. I believe that the good of the whole system, in this case the environment, is more important than the welfare of individual animals. I am fine with sacrificing the welfare of individuals for the greater good of the environment and as such don’t mind things such as experimentation on animals if it is absolutely necessary, which is rarely.

My stance on both the issues of the two group projects that I am using is based off my ecological ethicist position. First I am going to talk about my stance on wilderness preservation and then I will explain my stance on climate change. Wilderness preservation, to me, is extremely important, but it has to be done correctly. I think my opinion on this topic was heavily influenced by J. Baird Callicott, whose reading I was responsible for summarizing and critiquing in my group. I found myself agreeing with almost everything Callicott said so much so that a lot of it has become a core component of my belief on this issue. Callicott criticized how we identify wilderness as a place where humanity isn’t and criticized our current wilderness preservation policy for being there for the wrong reasons, not internationally applicable, and not strict enough. I found myself agreeing to all these points. We need to have wilderness preservation on a global level. Our current wilderness preservation policy tends to be just setting aside zones where humanity can’t live and allowing pollution outside these zones. I rather see most of these zones abolished and we strive to stop pollution everywhere instead of just not in these zones. This would allow for an international level of preservation and abolish the zones that are there for the wrong reasons. The current wilderness zones, as Callicott says, are located where they are because of the locations “uselessness” for humanities economic activities and the locations scenery. Callicott suggested that any wilderness preservation zones be located in places where biological conservation would be best preserved, instead of places that appeal to human aesthetic pleasures, and I agree with this. I would also want these zones to allow humans to inhabit. While people like Noss, who wrote another reading assigned to our group, say that the wilderness needs protection from humanity, I believe that humanity can be a part of the wilderness. I would like to see humans be able to inhabit these zones but activities such as commercial logging be banned. Ultimately, my belief is that wilderness preservation is a great thing for the environment as a whole and should be increased.

My stance on climate change is not as straight forward as my stance on wilderness preservation. While I agree that the Earth’s temperatures are changing, I am not so certain how much of an impact humanity actually has on this. The Earth is always changing and has undergone drastic temperature changes in the past, when humanity couldn’t have had an impact based on their small population. I am not denying global warming, I am just saying that we don’t have enough evidence to convince me that we are causing global warming. In this respect, I disagree with authors such as Gardiner. However I do agree with Gardiner in a different aspect. Gardiner believes in global warming being caused by humans and acknowledges that we don’t have a lot of evidence for this. Even so, she wrote that just because we don’t have this evidence doesn’t mean that scientists shouldn’t be looking for it. I agree with this and if overwhelming evidence was found that proved man is causing this change, I would agree with us trying to reduce our impact to stop a potentially dangerous climate change. If this was the case, I would suspect that our overpopulation was a major problem in causing this and a different author, Hardin, would agree with me. Hardin writes about the overpopulation problem and compares it to a life boat. The wealthy are on the lifeboat with enough resources to survive, while the poor are stranded in the water trying to survive when they don’t have the resources to do so. Hardin says that by letting the poor into the richer countries (the lifeboats) we jepordise the wealthy countries ability to survive. I agree that this is an accurate representation of the world but I don’t agree with Hardin’s theory of the poor bringing down the rich. I point to our countries history as an example of this. The pilgrims landed here with barely anything and worked their way up to create the 13 original colonies. They essentially were poor and became rich. Our country later on expanded because of poor immigrants. These immigrants came here with nothing hoping to have a better life, much like the people in the water would if they were allowed on the lifeboat. The immigrants supported the wealthy by working low class jobs for little pay, allowing the wealthiest citizens business’s to flourish. This is the exact opposite of Hardin’s claims, and because of this example I disagree with Hardin. Overall, my stance on climate change would be that I don’t know of enough evidence to think it is unnaturally happening (in other words that it is caused by a factor outside of nature such as humanities activities). If evidence was brought to my knowledge that the climate change is being caused by out activities, I would suggest we stop whatever is causing it in order to save the environment. I would say that this is an ecological ethicist position.

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Prompt 13

Posted: January 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

For this post I will be using my very first post, prompt 1, as my earliest post and prompt 10 as my latest post. I know prompt 10 isn’t actually my latest post but the reason I am using it is because it is the latest post that was based on a reading. Prompt 11 was an analysis of a classmate’s post and prompt 12 was a comparison of two previous posts (where I think I did exactly what we are supposed to do in this prompt). Because of this, they really didn’t contain too much new information on my own beliefs so it would be a little tough to compare one of them to my earliest post. Prompt 10 on the other hand was based on all new information and I actually developed my beliefs in it, so I will be using it instead.

Prompt 1 starts off with a brief introduction and then I give my opinion on the statement “eating animals is wrong because they can feel pain”. I completely disagreed with this statement and still do. The reasons in this post I gave to oppose this statement are that meat is a great source of nutrients, meat gets you these nutrients quickly, and that just because an animal can feel pain, it doesn’t mean we are inflicting it on them when we kill them. There are many ways to kill an animal nearly, sometimes completely, painlessly. I go on to say that slaughterhouses are wrong because they don’t do this, they torture and inhumanely kill animals, and it would be optimal to only buy local home grown organic meat but for many people, this is too expensive or not available. This is the start of my belief that eating animals is fine provided that animal isn’t put through unnecessary pain. This belief will develop a lot further by the time I am writing this prompt, but still has this same base.

Prompt 10 is a response to J. Baird Callicott’s “The Conceptual Foundations of the Land Ethic”. Callicott’s basic argument was that we shouldn’t sacrifice basic human needs to the environment, but we should see ourselves as part of the environment and show it proper respect. He says, ““Nonhuman fellow members of the biotic community have no ‘human rights’ because they are not, by definition, members of the human community. As fellow members of the biotic community, however, they deserve respect.” I completely agreed with this and felt as this is exactly what I have been saying since day one. Callicott then goes on to define respect and refute the claims against the land ethic of being anthropocentric.

My belief in prompt one of it being fine to eat animals, but they shouldn’t be put through unnecessary pain has developed into my current ecological ethicist position. I believe that it has grown to encompass something bigger than animals, the environment. My current beliefs could be summed up as: it is fine for humans to use the environment but we have to show it respect and not abuse it. This still has the basic idea from my first prompt but has expanded to encompass a broader topic. It has also been heavily affected by Callicott and Taylor’s concept of respecting nature. Because I am more concerned with protecting the environment as a whole and am therefore fine with sacrificing the welfare of individual animals, this makes me an ecological ethicist.


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Prompt One:

Prompt Ten:

Prompt 12

Posted: January 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

The two posts that I chose to compare for this post are post 4 and post 10. These two posts, although written about a week apart, both deal with the same issue. This is this issue of how animals should be treated. In both posts I state that I believe that human rights should always come before animal rights, but that doesn’t mean that we have to treat animals badly though. In prompt 10 I was able to further elaborate from this point in prompt 4 thanks to the many readings we had since prompt 4 was written. In prompt 4 I state “humans are far superior to other animals but that doesn’t mean we can’t treat animals right” and I stand by that position. I go on to say, in the case of lab experiments on animals, that I am fine with experimenting on animals as long as it is absolutely  necessary and we don’t intentionally harm them. The thing that relates these two statements that I made in prompt 4, is respect. I didn’t realize this until I read Callicott’s writing and was able to elaborate my idea as I do in prompt 10. Callicott says “Nonhuman fellow members of the biotic community have no ‘human rights’ because they are not, by definition, members of the human community. As fellow members of the biotic community, however, they deserve respect”. This has pretty much been my whole argument since the beginning of the course but until I read this quote, I wasn’t able to put it into as good of words. To me, what Callicott means is that humanity, the human community, should come before the rest of the biotic community that we are a part of, but we can still respect the other members of the biotic community even though we take care of ourselves first. This concept of respect for nature, which also came from Paul Taylor, hasn’t really made a major change in my beliefs, but it has allowed me to elaborate on my beliefs and made it easier to explain them. It seems like I was looking for the word respect the whole time but just couldn’t think of it. With my beliefs being fully developed, I realize that my position is one of an ecological ethicist. This is because I am willing to sacrifice the welfare of individual animals in order to protect and sustain the whole environment. This is evident in how I consider humans to be superior to animals, am fine with humans eating animals in order to survive, experimenting on animals if it is necessary, and support and practice hunting.

Extra Credit 2

Posted: January 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

Throughout the week I have learned a lot about my self and ethics in general. Though my posts have stayed fairly consistent since the very beginning of the course, I have been able to refine my posts to figure out what my core beliefs are. This has led to me being pretty confident in the fact that I have an ecological ethicist mindset. An ecological ethicist differs from an animal rights ethicist in what they believe to be the main goal of ethics. An ecological ethicist is concerned more with the preservation and stability of the environment as a whole, while an animal rights ethicist is concerned with the welfare of individual creature. I have learned these definitions and that they are contradictory to each other. An animal liberation ethicist wants to remove the biotic order in order to protect the welfare of individual animals, while an ecological ethicist realizes that the welfare of individual animals may be damaged in order to preserve the whole system. The reason I think I am an ecological ethicist is because I have always said that i have no problem with humans eating animals because animals eating animals is just part of nature and is how the ecosystem works. I have also always said that even though it is fine for a human to eat another animal, we shouldn’t abuse them or torture them. I have refined this point by including J. Baird Callicott’s idea of respect. Callicott said, in this weeks reading, that humans are part of a biotic community of all living things on Earth and we are also apart of the human community. Because of this, it is fine for humans to put the interests of other humans first but this doesn’t mean that we can’t treat the rest of the biotic community with respect. This idea of respect, I think, is extremely important. To me, as long as you treat another animal with respect, it is fine to eat animals, hunt, and keep livestock on farms. This idea of respect also backups up my opinion on slaughterhouses being wrong. Slaughterhouses treat their animals inhumanely and without any respect. This means that, according to my personal ethics, slaughterhouses are immoral. This view is definitely more concerned with the environment as a whole instead of individual animal rights and that is why I believe I am an ecological ethicist.

Prompt 11

Posted: January 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

For my post I chose the response of my fellow group member, Sean. The reason I chose his post to evaluate is because we tend to have very similar viewpoints. I would definitely consider myself to have taken a ecological ethicist position throughout my tenth post and I feel that I have maintained that position fairly consistently throughout my previous posts. The reason I feel that I have an ecological ethicist position is because that I tend to favor and support the greater community as opposed to individuals. I think that Sean’s post are also usually taking an ecological ethicist position. This is evident in his tenth post and is one of the reasons I chose to pick it.

One major piece of evidence showing that Sean took an ecological ethicist position is how he responded Callicott’s quote, “Family obligations in general come before nationalistic duties and humanitarian obligations in general come before environmental duties”. Sean said that he agrees with this statement but thinks it contradicts Callicott’s basic argument. This supports an ecological ethicist position because it is dealing in terms of communities, instead of individuals. This is also one point where Sean and I disagree. Sean thinks this statement contradicts Callicott’s general idea but I don’t see how it does. This comes down to what we each believe was Callicott’s basic idea. I said that Callicott’s argument was how we are all a part of a biotic community and we need to respect other members of that community but not allow that to interfere with basic human needs. Sean seemed to think that Callicott’s argument was just how we are equal to all other members of that biotic community.

I think that my interpretation of what Callicott was trying to say answers a lot of the questions that Sean asked in his prompt. I agree with what Sean says in the rest of his post especially when he says “Do animals, nature, etc have inherent value?  Yes.  Is that value equal to that of human beings? No”. I completely agree with this and have said this in many previous posts. Even though it could be considered anthropocentric and speciesism, Sean and I both believe that humans come before other animals, but this doesn’t mean that other animals don’t’ have any value and don’t deserve respect. This is also what I think Callicott was trying to get at.

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Prompt 10

Posted: January 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

Callicott’s general point of his writing “The Conceptual Foundations of The Land Ethic” was that we shouldn’t sacrifice basic human need to the environment, but we should see ourselves as part of this environment and give it proper respect. I completely agree with him as this is what I have been saying since day one of this class. It is fine to use the environment to fulfill basic human needs but when we start to abuse it, we have to back off. In doing this I feel we are using Russow’s concept of respect for nature because we are using the natural world but respecting it by not taking advantage of it. Callicott uses the concept of communities to back up his claims. He says, “Nonhuman fellow members of the biotic community have no ‘human rights’ because they are not, by definition, members of the human community. As fellow members of the biotic community, however, they deserve respect” (244).

He goes on to refute two problems most professional philosophers have with the ‘land ethic’ theory. First, he talks about how to define respect. He gives a great example of the Algonquian woodland peoples, which are a Native American tribe. They would routinely offer tokens of payment and expressions of apology to whatever they needed to exploit in order to live. This along with the care not to waste any of the animal that they caught and the care to properly dispose of unusable animal remains, was how they showed respect to nature. I think Callicott admires this as I do and wonders why we don;t do this today. In my opinion the problems we have today aren’t because we use nature, it is because we waste a lot of what we take from nature and don’t give much back, and this is what I think Callicott wants to change. The next problem most philosophers have is that the land ethic theory is widely called anthropocentric, speciesism, and homocentric. He agrees that it is possible to define this way of thinking as those but wonders, like I have said in the past, why they are considered wrong. He says that there is nothing wrong with putting your community first, as we do this everyday, as long as you don’t abuse whatever you are taking away from, because that wouldn’t show respect. He shows this with a simple example of the communities we belong to. Everyone here belongs to a nation, state, and town or city and would put the interests of their nation, state, or town/city before someone else’s as long is it is absolutely necessary. The key here is the ‘absolutely necessary’ part, no one would support the USA invading another country just to invade another country, because that would be abusing our power and not showing any respect to other countries, just as no one would support killing more animals than needed and wasting their meat because that would be abusing nature and not showing respect to it. This all ties in to Callicotts previous point of respect and his general argument, that it is fine to utilize nature to fulfill basic human needs as long as we show nature respect and don’t abuse it.

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Prompt 9

Posted: January 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

While reading Paul Taylor’s ‘Biocentric Egalitarianism’, I chose to focus on the concept of respect for nature. Taylor defines the concept of respect for nature as, “adopting a certain ultimate moral attitude toward the natural world” (209). This concept is extremely important in Taylor’s theory of biocentric egalitarianism. He says when we adopt this attitude, we make a commitment to live by certain normative principles and these principles “constitute the rules of conduct and standards of character that are to govern our treatment of the natural world” (209). This concept is the basis of his whole argument and it needs to exist because of this. The attitude of respect for nature is the reasoning behind his inherent worth argument, which is extremely similar to Regan’s theories. I think Taylor is right about this concept but I disagree with how he uses the concept.

Taylor uses the attitude of respect for nature to call for complete equality of the natural world (biocentric egalitarianism). I interpreted this concept in a different way. I think that everyone should have respect for nature but this doesn’t mean we can’t use nature. Taylor seemed to want people to stop using nature for their benefit altogether but I think we still can do this and respect nature at the same time. How? By not abusing nature. Using this concept of respect for nature, I think it is fine to eat animals, to use plants for medicine, cut down some trees for shelter, etc. As long as we don’t abuse it by killing more animals than we need and letting parts go to waste (slaughterhouses) or chopping down more trees or plants than we need and letting them go to waste (commercial deforestation). I think that if we did this, we could still have a society like we do today but without all the problems that these practices cause. I think this concept is extremely important in the broader environmental ethics debate. This is because I feel that all people should have this respect for nature. If everyone had this, we could still use nature but no one would abuse it and as I said before, we wouldn’t have many of the problems that we have today because of the lack of respect and abuse of the natural world.

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