According to current definitions of civil disobedience, drawn from the work of John Rawls and Carl Cohen, eco-saboteurs are not civil disobedients because their disobedience is not a form of address and/or does not appeal to the public's sense of justice or human welfare. But this definition also excludes disobedience by a wide range of groups, from labor activists to hunt saboteurs, either because they are obstructionist or because they address moral concerns other than justice or the public weal. However (...) earlier definitions of civil disobedience were not so narrow. I review the development of the current definition and the circumstances of its acceptance. I argue that the circumstances which help to explain the attractiveness of the Rawls/Cohen formulations in the 1970s are no longer applicable and that the question of civil disobedience should be revisited. I suggest a wider definition according to which at least some types of eco-sabotage would be civil disobedience. (shrink)
Scientific cognitivists argue formalist aesthetics of nature are (i) inadequate for appreciating the full range of nature’s aesthetic values and (ii) too subjective to be useful for defending nature conservation. I argue that (i) is false because moderate formalists can appreciate nature for its performances, not merely objects and vistas. I argue (ii) is false because moderate formalists can argue that appreciation of beauty (including natural beauty) is a constitutive good of human flourishing, whose realization relies on access to a (...) rich and diverse array of aesthetically rewarding experiences throughout a lifetime. On these grounds, moderate formalists (among others) can justify conserving distinctive natural entities and environs for our own and future generations’ good. (shrink)
In the first book on the development of John Dewey's ethical thought, Jennifer Welchman revises the prevalent interpretation of his ethics. Her clear and engaging account traces the history of Dewey's distinctive moral philosophy from its roots in idealism during the 1890s through the pragmatist approach of his 1922 work, Human Nature and Conduct. Central to the development of Dewey's ethics was his lifelong conviction that the realms of science and morals, facts and values were reconcilable. This conviction, Welchman demonstrates, (...) drove Dewey to reject the orthodox ethics of his day in favor of radical alternatives?first absolute idealism and later pragmatism. She reveals how Dewey came to adopt and subsequently to modify idealist ethics of self-realization. Welchman then explores the transformations in Dewey's conception of science that exploded the fragile truce between fact and value that he had negotiated as an idealist. Finally, she examines how Dewey developed his own instrumentalist accounts of moral value, conduct, and character that culminated in his best-known work of ethics, Human Nature and Conduct. (shrink)
What virtues do good stewards typically have and can these virtues move people to be good stewards of nature? Why focus on the virtues of stewards rather than on trying to construct and defend morally obligatory rules to govern human behavior? I argue that benevolence and loyalty are crucial for good stewardship and these virtues can and do motivate people to act as good stewards of nature. Moreover,since it is a matter of dispute whether rational considerations can move us to (...) perform a given act in the absence of disposition to do so, I argue we should try to determine which moral dispositions (if any) will motivate people to be concerned for the environment so that the development of environmentally sensitive character may be encouraged. (shrink)
Public recognition of the fragility of the natural systems on which present and future generations depend has prompted calls for the practice of environmental stewardship —calls widely criticised in the environmental ethics literature. Some argue that stewardship 's historical associations entail that it is inherently sexist, speciesist and/or anthropocentric. Others argue that absent belief in a creator to appoint us as stewards and hold us accountable, talk of 'environmental stewardship ' is empty. I review the concept's recent evolution and provide (...) a tentative definition. I argue that so defined, it is not vulnerable to standard criticisms, but is instead a promising way of construing morally decent conduct towards the environment. (shrink)
William James's 'The Will to Believe" has been criticized for offering untenable arguments in support of belief in unvalidated hypotheses. Although James is no longer accused of sug gesting we can create belief ex nihilo, critics con tinue to charge that James's defense of belief in what he called the "religious hypothesis" con fuses belief with hypothesis adoption and endorses willful persistence in unvalidated beliefs-not, as he claimed, in pursuit of truth, but merely to avoid the emotional stress of abandoning (...) them. I argue that James's position in "The Will to Believe" can be defended pro vided we give up thinking of it as ethics of belief and think of it instead as an ethics of self-experimentation. Subjective data (includ ing wants, needs, and desires) are relevant to rational consent to participation in research. (shrink)
: William James's "The Will to Believe" has been criticized for offering untenable arguments in support of belief in unvalidated hypotheses. Although James is no longer accused of suggesting we can create belief ex nihilo, critics continue to charge that James's defense of belief in what he called the "religious hypothesis" confuses belief with hypothesis adoption and endorses willful persistence in unvalidated beliefs—not, as he claimed, in pursuit of truth, but merely to avoid the emotional stress of abandoning them. I (...) argue that James's position in "The Will to Believe" can be defended provided we give up thinking of it as ethics of belief and think of it instead as an ethics of self-experimentation. Subjective data are relevant to rational consent to participation in research. (shrink)
This collection provides readings from five classic thinkers with importantly distinct approaches to virtue theory, along with five new essays from contemporary thinkers that apply virtue theories to the resolution of practical moral problems. Jennifer Welchman's Introduction discusses the history of virtue theory. A short introduction to each reading highlights the distinctive aspects of the view expressed.
This article considers the claims (i) that saving human life through organ transplants from other species would be speciesist, (ii) that none the less it can be defended on grounds of loyalty to our species. I reject loyalty to one's species as a plausible extension of the virtue of loyalty, suggesting that solidarity with one's species is possible and may provide adequate grounds of defense of xenografting.
Professions have traditionally treated advocacy as a collective duty, best assigned to professional associations to perform. In North American nursing, advocacy for issues affecting identifiable patients is assigned instead to their nurses. We argue that nursing associations’ withdrawal from advocacy for patient care issues is detrimental to nurses and patients alike. Most nurses work in large institutions whose internal policies they cannot influence. When these create obstacles to good care, the inability of nurses to affect change can result in avoidable (...) distress for them and for their patients. We illustrate this point with a case study: the circumstances of the death of Michael Joseph LeBlanc, an inmate at Kingston Penitentiary Regional Hospital (Ontario). We conclude that patients and their nurses will suffer unnecessarily unless or until nursing associations cease to burden individual nurses with the responsibility for patient advocacy. (shrink)
Hume’s readers love to hate the Sensible Knave. But hating the Knave is like hating a messenger with bad tidings. The message is that there is a gap, on Hume’s account, between our motivations and our obligations to just action. But it isn’t the Knave’s character that is to blame, for the same gap will be found if we turn our attention to alter egos, such as Robin Hood, the benevolent “Prince of Thieves.” Replacing self-interest with benevolence not only does (...) not make the gap go away, it makes it harder to bridge. Of thetwo, it is benevolence, not self-interest, that actually poses the more serous challenge to Hume’s account of justice. (shrink)
John Dewey began his career as an absolute idealist, holding that the universe is a construct of an absolute mind in which human minds participate; human ideas are true when they reproduce the absolute's ideas; and human conduct is right when it realizes the absolute's goals for human progress. Twenty years later Dewey had abandoned idealism for instrumentalism, asserting that ideas are instruments for the manipulation of human experience and that conduct is right when it generates a satisfactory relationship between (...) agents and their environments. However, scholars disagree about when, why, and how this transformation of Dewey's thought occurred. I review the development of Dewey's moral epistemology from 1884 to 1908 to answer these questions. ;In chapters I and II, I examine the sources and nature of Dewey's early idealism, relating it to the views of contemporary idealists such as T. H. Green, F. H. Bradley, G. S. Morris, and to the views of A. Comte. By the latter Dewey was inspired to seek a reconciliation of physical science and morals, despite the reservations of his fellow idealists. In Chapters III and IV, I discuss Dewey's first two ethics texts , each an attempt to overcome idealist objections to reconciling ethics and science. Both were critical failures, forcing Dewey to rethink his position. In chapter V, I argue that collaboration with experimental psychologists at the University of Chicago transformed Dewey's understanding of science. He then came to see scientific ideas and principles as instruments for manipulating human experience and, gradually, all ideas in the same light. By 1902, Dewey had abandoned his earlier idealist notions for instrumentalism and begun to construct new arguments for reconciling science and ethics. In chapters VI and VII, I explicate and defend the reconciliation Dewey achieved through use of his new instrumentalist moral epistemology in his 1908 Ethics. (shrink)
Though nearly 400 pages, Benjamin Richardson’s The Art of Environmental Law, Governing with Aesthetics, will not tell you everything you always wanted to know about aesthetics and environmental law but were afraid to ask. What it will give you is a fascinating overview that is remarkably readable despite its considerable length.Richardson’s opening chapter explains that his objective is to show “how insights from aesthetics can enrich the study and understanding of environmental law.” (p. 5) Strictly speaking, what he draws upon (...) are insights about aesthetics rather than from aesthetic theories, philosophical or otherwise. Richardson does occasionally draw upon philosophical texts, most frequently those of Allen Carlson and Glenn Parsons, Arnold Berleant, Yuriko Saito, and Emily Brady. But this is a work of applied aesthetics, aimed at an interdisciplinary audience. Indeed its greatest strength is its interdisciplinarity. Richardson draws on studies of environmental law and landscape management, biodiversity conservation, museum practices, advertising, ecotourism, environmental restoration, land art, and environmental activism, as well as philosophical environmental aesthetics. The result is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the many different avenues through which aesthetic values, broadly construed, can enter into the development and application of environmental law. (shrink)
How should we define liberty or social freedom? Which obstacles constitute constraints? Is poverty one? By what method of conceptual analysis can a definition of social freedom best be generated? These and related questions form the subject matter of Kristjánsson’s interesting critical review of so-called “responsibility” accounts of social freedom. Together with his critical exegesis of rival views, Kristjánnson explains and defends his own “responsibility view.”.
Aldo Leopold's holistic land ethic principle, ‘‘a thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community … wrong when it tends otherwise,’’ has seemed to many philosophers indefensible in light of any of the traditional normative theories of character and conduct that have been central to Western moral theory since the early modern period. J. Baird Callicott has long disputed this assessment, arguing that in fact, Leopold's land ethic is best understood and (...) defended as the conclusion from the application of an essentially Humean moral outlook to the human exploitation of nature. Callicot'ts defense of Leopold's land ethic has been criticized for being grounded in an interpretation of Hume's moral philosophy that the texts do not support. But while the criticisms pose a serious obstacle to acceptance of Callicott's own strategy for constructing a Humean defense of Leopold's position, they leave open the possibility that other strategies might prove more successful. There are at least two ways that a more successful defense could be constructed. The attitude toward nature encapsulated in Leopold's land ethic principle could either be defended as an inborn, natural virtue or, alternately, as a novel species of artificial virtue inculcated for its personal and social utility. If this correct, Callicott's suggestion that we look to Hume for a defense of Leopold's position merits serious consideration, both for the light it may shed on the particular question of the defensibility of Leopold's land ethic principle and on more general questions about whether Hume's virtue theory can be a useful resource for ethical and social policy debates about the environment. (shrink)
Does Leopold’s land ethic principle represent a break with traditional We stern moral philosophies as some have argued? Or is it instead an extension of traditional Western moral ideas as Leopold believed? I argue that Leopold’s principle is compatible with an ecologically-informed Kantianism.
Norton argues on pragmatic “Deweyan” grounds that we should cease to ask scientists for value neutral definitions of “sustainability,” developed independently of moral and social values, to guide our environmental policy making debates. “Sustainability,” like human “health,” is a normative concept from the start—one that cannot be meaningfully developed by scientists or economists without input by all the stake holders affected. While I endorse Norton’s approach, I question his apparent presumption that concern for sustainability for the future is at odds (...) with and ought to trump concern for enhancement in the present of public opportunities to access the goods nature represents. I argue that the two are not separable in practice. I argue for Passmore’s position that unless we take care to enhance equitable access to the good and services nature represents in the present, we cannot succeed in promoting sustainability for future generations. (shrink)
Genetically modified food crops have been called ‘frankenfoods’ since 1992. Although some might dismiss the phenomena as clever marketing by anti-GM groups, of no philosophic interest, its resonance with the general public suggests otherwise. I argue that examination of the intersection of popular conceptions of monsters, nature, and food at which ‘frankenfood’ stands reveals significant and disturbing trends in our relationship to organic nature of interest to moral and social philosophy and to environmental ethics.