Environmental ethics and decision theory: Fellow travellers or bitter enemies?

On the face of it, ethics and decision theory give quite different advice about what the best course of action is in a given situation. In this paper we examine this alleged conflict in the realm of environmental decision-making. We focus on a couple of places where ethics and decision theory might be thought to be offering conflicting advice: environmental triage and carbon trading. We argue that the conflict can be seen as conflicts about other things (like appropriate temporal scales for value assignments, idealisations of the decision situation, whether the conservation budget really is fixed and the like). The good news is that there is no conflict between decision theory and environmental ethics. The bad news is that a great deal of environmental decision modelling may be rather simple minded, in that it does not fully incorporate some of these broader issues about temporal scales and the dynamics of many of the decision situations.
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