Are ethical principles that guide human behavior suitable for the array of complex new environmental problems? Justice, nonmaleficence, noninterference, and fidelity seem by extension to apply. Conflicts between the principles of humanistic ethics and environmental ethics may perhaps be resolved, as Paul W. Taylor indicates, through the application of such “priority principles” as “self-defense,” “proportionality,” “minimum wrong,” and “restitutive justice.” Taylor suggests that these principles would forbid moral agents from perpetrating harm through direct killing, habitat destruction, environmental contamination, and pollution.
Gewirth's view that ethics is based on human rights is contrasted to Blanshard's view that human rights derive their support from ethics. For Blanshard intrinsic good is comprised of whatever both satisfies and fulfills human nature. Human rights and correlated duties depend entirely upon whether or not they foster this intrinsic good. For Gewirth, by contrast, human claim-rights, such as freedom and well-being, are the foundation of human agency required for moral action of any sort. Such rights, properly conceived, are (...) the foundation and basis of ethics. (shrink)