The Justification of an Environmental Ethic

Environmental Ethics 5 (1):47-61 (1983)
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Tom Regan has made a very important contribution to the debate on environmental ethics in his “On the Nature and Possibility of an Environmental Ethic.” The debate can be brought out yet more clearly by contrasting Regan’s views with those of an eminent critic of environmental ethics in Regan’s sense, William K. Frankena. I argue that Regan’s position has much to recommend it, but has a fatal flaw whichwould render environmental ethics unjustifiable. I suggest this flaw can be remedied by divorcing an environmental ethic from a dubious ontological commitment. Reflection on metaethics, ontological commitments, and the nature of ethical justification leads to a conclusion favorable to an environmental ethic.



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