There is a dilemma facing mainstream environmental ethicists. One of our leading spokesmen, HolmesRolston, III, offers a rich ethical position, but one that lacks internal connections between principles relevant to the environment and principles relevant to human society. These principles are just different; thus no higher-order guidance is available to cope with cases of conflict between them. A second major spokesman, Baird Callicott, recommends a "land ethics" that is internally coherent but sadly inadequate for addressing many distinctly (...) human ethical concerns. To escape this dilemma I advocate an alternative worldview, "Personalistic Organicism." On this view, inspired by Alfred North Whitehead, a continuum of values, pervading the universe, can undergird a unified ethics in which human persons are recognized as especially valuable without rupturing the continuities that bind humanity to the rest of the living (and nonliving) environment. (shrink)
In this brief comment on Ted Schoen’s paper, I tend to agree more than I disagree. Methodological isolation has been widely and uncritically accepted by thinkers about religion and science, and Schoen’s dissipation of the isolationist discourse deserves positive notice. For too long, science has been the bully of the epistemic neighborhood, and religious thinkers have taken refuge in methodological isolation. As Schoen argues, neither religion nor science is isolated; rather, both are interacting in the same comprehensive and value-laden domain, (...) which also includes art, poetry, ethics and metaphysics. (shrink)
Notoriously, beauty is subject to time’s “tooth”; but—somehow—we sense also the imperviousness of achieved value to mere duration. This paradox is illustrated using a recent art event, and three principles analyzed from the case in point: (1) the exclusive intrinsic importance of subjective immediacy, (2) the necessity of intersubjective connections, and (3) the crucial place of instrumental value. Moving from art to metaphysics to nature, I conclude with discussions of habitat and of evolution. Only if a habitat’s instrumental value (for (...) many centers of subjective immediacy besides human ones) is adequately respected can anthropocentric values be prevented from always “trumping” all others. I reconsider evolution in terms of many interconnected value-realizing subjects, presenting the proffered “kalogenic” perspective as a manifestation of the most fundamental process of the universe—one in which the pursuit, actualization, and defense of concrete beauty actually generates what we abstractly call “time.”. (shrink)
An organismic viewpoint is a welcome alternative to modern mechanistic consciousness, with the latter’s excessive epistemic reliance on analysis, its ontological presumption of atomism, and its value commitments to competition, quantification, reduction, and predictability. These ideas have had negative social and environmental consequences and require replacement. Organismic ethics, grounded in the “wisdom of life”--especially the dialectical triad of creativity, homeostasis, and holism-is far healthier. But organicism alone has serious defects sometimes overlooked by environmental enthusiasts (earlier including this author): life’s creativity (...) wastes individual organisms, and life’s holism neglects the unique value of parts in favor of larger unities. Is it possible to work out a genuinely personalistic organicism? Traditional personalistic idealism will not do, but insights into essential personal qualities may enrich the concepts of creativity, homeostasis, and holism enough to offer a start toward a more adequate ethic. (shrink)
The first half of the book concentrates on key definitions and epistemological issues, including an overview of philosophy as applied to technology, a definition of technology, and an examination of technology as it relates to practical and ...
Meat-eating as a human practice has been under ethical attack from philosophers such as Peter Singer and Tom Regan on both utilitarian and deontological grounds. An organicist ethic, on the other hand, recognizes that all life other than the primary producers, the plants, must feed on life. This essay affirms, with many environmental ethicists, the moralconsiderability of biota other than the human, but denies that this enlargement of the moral community beyond Homo sapiens necessarily precludes our eating of meat. First, (...) absolute deontological arguments against meat-eating are disputed, then utilitarian-hedonistic arguments are shown not to be sufficient to require ethical vegetarianism. Both sorts of arguments have strengths, however, that set us on guard against current abuses in the meat-raising and slaughtering industries. If the principle of 'due respect' for beings with different degrees of intrinsic value is honored, then moderate meat-eating under reformed social practices can be seen as licit. Two final problems then require investigation: the problem of dietary justice for poor humans and the problem of 'speciesism'. Dealing with the latter requires discussion of cannibalism and the ethics of humans being eaten by still higher 'aliens'. (shrink)