Doing Environmental Ethics

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Doing Environmental Ethics offers a way to face our ecological crisis that draws on environmental science, economic theory, international law, religious teachings, and philosophical arguments. It engages readers in constructing ethical presumptions based on our duty (to other persons, species, and ecosystems), our character (personal virtues), our relationships (with other persons and nature), and our rights (to sustainable development and a healthy environment). Then it tests these moral presumptions by predicting the likely consequences of acting on them. Readers apply what they have learned to specific policy issues discussed in the final Part of the book: sustainable consumption, environmental policy, clean air and water, agriculture, managing public lands, urban ecology, and climate change. Questions after each chapter and a worksheet aid readers in deciding how to live more responsibly as consumers and as citizens. "What you do matters," Robert Traer writes, "and the person you are also matters. In ethics we look for reasons to explain why this is so."
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Praise from the Previous Edition:

"In this well-done, three-part work, Traer offers a solid introduction to environmental ethics. … Traer presents opposing views fairly, and is good at explaining/applying concepts. Recommended.”

"In the hands of Traer 'environmental ethics' become the critical search for wisdom for individuals and for society in dealing with the greatest crisis in human history. It includes, and draws from, the whole range of formal ethical systems, but it also treats specific environmental problems such as global warming. It shows how these cannot be separated from economic and political theory and practice. And it does all this in relation to our actual historical situation and cultural diversity. This is "ethics" at its transdisciplinary best."
John B. Cobb, Jr., Claremont School of Theology

"Doing Environmental Ethics stands out among the many available textbooks on the topic because of its clarity and inclusiveness. Most such books show clearly the bias or chosen position of the editor/author, and exclude much important material for that reason. In contrast Traer shows his thorough philosophical background and his strong understanding of morality in the variety of sources he uses, far beyond the usual material found in environmental ethics textbooks. I would recommend it as the first choice for any course on environmental issues."
Laura Westra, University of Windsor

"In this scholarly, extensively documented volume, Traer brings the discipline of ethics to our current environmental crisis. … Traer manages a unique blend of the philosophical with the pragmatic, ending with a discussion of 15 strategies using existing technology that would prevent a global warming disaster within 50 years."

“Traer provides not only an unusually coherent and laudable plan for canvassing the field of environmental ethics, but also takes a stance that … promises rich rewards for thinking critically about responsible earth citizenship. Facts and figures cited are up to date and telling. The science underpinning environmental protection is well presented and easy to understand.”
Environmental Values

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813343976
  • Publisher: Westview Press
  • Publication date: 2/24/2009
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Traer holds a Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, a J.D. from the School of Law of the University of California at Davis, and a D.Min. from the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. He is a faculty member of the Dominican University of California. With Harlan Stelmach, he is coauthor of Doing Ethics in a Diverse World (Westview Press).
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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xiii

I Ethics and Science

1 Moral Philosophy: An Adventure in Reasoning 3

Right and Good 4

Reasoning about Our Feelings 6

Environmental Ethics 9

Learning from Diverse Theories 10

Doing Ethics Together 13

Questions-Moral Philosophy: An Adventure in Reasoning 17

2 Ethics and Science: Moral Consideration 19

What We Know and Can't Know 20

An Evolving Theory of Evolution 22

Ecosystems and Emergent Properties 25

Ascribing Value to Nature 29

Questions-Ethics and Science: Moral Consideration 33

3 Ethics and Economics: The Common Good 35

Invisible Hand? 35

Economic and Ethical Issues 37

Globalization and Economic Growth 40

Green Economics 45

Questions-Ethics and Economics: The Common Good 50

II Constructing and Testing Ethical Presumptions

4 Duty: Nature and Future Generations 55

Doing Our Duty 55

Right Action 58

Commanded by God: Jews and Muslims 60

Government, Land, and Property 62

Applying the Golden Rule 65

Animals, Species, Ecosystems, and Landscapes 67

Questions-Duty: Nature and Future Generations 68

5 Character: Ecological Virtues 71

Being Good 72

Children's Stories 75

Christian Stewardship 76

Virtues: Integrity, Gratitude, and Frugality 81

Respecting and Appreciating Nature 83

Questions-Character: Ecological Virtues 85

6 Relationships: Empathy and Integrity 87

Empathy Is Natural 88

Culture and Human Nature 90

Deep Ecology 94

Ecofeminism: A Social Ecology 97

Ecological Integrity 100

Questions-Relationships: Empathy and Integrity 102

7 Rights: Humans and Animals? 103

Human Rights Law 104

Environmental Rights108

Animal Rights? 111

A Rights Strategy 117

Questions-Rights: Humans and Animals? 118

8 Consequences: Predicting the Future 121

Utilitarianism 122

Animal Suffering 124

Cost-Benefit Analysis 128

Biocentric Consequentialism 130

Scientific Consequences 134

Questions-Consequences: Predicting the Future 136

Worksheet 138

III Learning from Nature

9 Ecological Living: Sustainable Consumption 145

Duty: To Reduce Our Consumption 146

Character: Consumer Choices 146

Relationships: Our Natural Community 152

Rights: To a Healthy Environment 154

Consequences: Sustainable Consumption 157

Questions-Ecological Living: Sustainable Consumption 161

10 Environmental Policy: Governments, Corporations, NGOs 163

Governments: International and US Policies 163

Corporations: Moral Leadership 166

Nongovernmental Organizations: Advocacy and Action 173

Collaborative Strategies: GLWQA and the Apollo Alliance 176

Consequences: Incentives and Taxes 178

Questions-Environmental Policy: Governments, Corporations, NGOs 181

11 Air and Water: A Healthy Environment 183

The Earth's Atmosphere 183

Air: Pollution and Greenhouse Gases 184

Water: Quality and Scarcity 189

Economic Predictions: Shortsighted 195

Questions-Air and Water: A Healthy Environment 198

12 Agriculture: Land and Food 201

Nature's Cycles 202

Industrial Agriculture 203

Poor Farmers 208

Sustainable Farming 210

Questions-Agriculture: Land and Food 216

13 Public Land: Adaptive Management 219

Conservationists versus Preservationists 220

National Forests and Parks 223

Restoring Deserts and Wetlands 226

Wildlife Reserves in Asia and Africa 230

Ethical and Legal Presumptions 234

Questions-Public Land: Adaptive Management 234

14 Urban Ecology: Building Green 237

The Built Environment 238

Transportation 243

Water and Waste 245

Sustainable Cities 248

Consequences 251

Questions-Urban Ecology: Building Green 255

15 Climate Change: Global Warming 257

The Carbon Cycle 258

Responsibility 259

Predicting Consequences 263

Taking Action 271

Questions-Climate Change: Global Warming 274

Notes 275

Bibliography 349

Index 357

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