On the Demarcation Problem and the Possibility of Environmental Ethics

Environmental Ethics 32 (3):247-265 (2010)
According to a popular critique of environmental ethics, the view that nature has intrinsic value faces an insurmountable demarcation problem. This critique was delivered in a particularly forceful manner two decades ago by Janna Thompson in her paper “A Refutation of Environmental Ethics.” However, the demarcation problem, albeit a real problem, is not insurmountable. Thompson’s argument draws on the claim that the possibility of environmental ethics depends on the possibility that nature can be demarcated with respect to some allegedly morally significant property or set of properties. Her own view of nature’s moral significance is equally dependent on that possibility. Therefore, if the demarcation problem were insurmountable, that would imply a refutation of her own view on nature’s moral significance as well
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DOI 10.5840/enviroethics201032330
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