Characteristics of environmental ethics: Environmental activits' accounts

Ethics and Behavior 4 (4):345 – 367 (1994)
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This article describes a qualitative investigation of environmental ethics as construed by environmental activists. Twenty-nine participants responded in writing to open-ended questions on their definitions of an environmental ethic, how they expressed and experienced this moral orientation in their lives, and what sustained it. Four major themes emerged. First, ethical consideration of the natural environment pervaded morality, values, and private and public life. Second, emotional or spiritual experiences, or personal fulfillment, were important for many. Third, there was disagreement on the relationships among environmental principles, intentions, and behaviors, as well as the necessity of prescribing specific behaviors. Finally, there were diverse views on the role of humanitarian concerns in an environmental ethic. These themes are discussed in terms of parallels to religious experience, motivations for an environmental ethic, and implications for nonenvironmental realms of ethics and justice.



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