Water Ethics: Foundational Readings for Students and Professionals

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Overview

The world's growing global water crisis has ignited efforts to reconnect policy to human values. According to Water Ethics, all approaches to managing water, no matter how grounded in empirical data, involve moral judgments and cultural assumptions.

Each of the book's six sections discusses a different approach to thinking about the relationship between water and humanity, from utilitarianism to ecofeminism to religious beliefs. Contributors range from Bartholomew, Ecumenical Patriarch, of the Orthodox Church, to Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom and water policy expert Sandra Postel. Water Ethics will help readers understand how various moral perspectives have guided and will continue to guide water policy around the globe.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of the American Water Resources Association - Kevin J. Spelts

"I was fully engaged - heart and mind - as I read Water Ethics. For me, some of the philosophies expressed have moved me to action...I am glad that I read Water Ethics and I would not hesitate suggesting it to my colleagues...an emotional component espoused by Water Ethics is lacking in a purely reductionist view of water."
Water Alternatives - David Groenfeldt

[...] through offering this complex set of thoughful if sometimes mutually discordant essays, and in sewing them together with introductory remarks and the concluding chapter, the editors have defined a messy frontier where cultural values (ethics) manifest in water policies. More than delineating that frontier, Brown and Schmidt help us understand how that frontier has developed, how it seems to be changing (some signs of hope here), and where they think we need to go (compassionate retreat). For these reasons, this book is an invaluable addition to the set of resources available to water managers, policymakers, researchers, activists, and the residual category of 'concnerned citizens.'
Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture - Gary L. Chamberlain

"As we move into the next decade of the new twenty-first century, perhaps no other issue will stamp its imprint on our consciousness as much as the global water crisis...Editors Brown and Schmidt have assembled eighteen essays that span one hundred years of ethical reflections on water, from 1909 to 2009, including their own carefully crafted concluding essay. The book is arranged as a chronology of understandings surrounding water ethics, understandings that have driven water policies and practices. The reader, then, is able to move through developments as they occurred in light of previous approaches. At the same time, the book spans a wide variety of philosophical and theological approaches...Although there is no one particular ethic that emerges in these collective writings, Water Ethics offers a glimpse of a major revolution in thinking about water and water issues. In addition to the general principles and philosophical arguments developed in the book, several authors utilize case studies to support and illustrate their positions. As the subtitle of Water Ethics indicates, these writings are not meant for a casual reader but are directed at students and professionals who work with water concerns. These concerns will certainly intensify in the next decades, and therefore, Water Ethics is a critical resource for current and forthcoming debates."
Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics - Neelke Doorn

"Peter G. Brown and Jeremy J. Smith [Schmidt] have taken upon themselves the challenge of putting ethics on the agenda of water experts (be it professionals or students). ...the book presents an invitation for applied philosophers (be it social, political, or moral philosophers) to join social scientists in developing an ethics of water governance. For ethicists, it is the challenge to go beyond traditional environmental ethics and to develop an ethics that does justice to the particularities of water. This book sets a modest first step for exploring this new terrain."
Journal of Agriculture and Environmental Ethics
"This book sets a modest first step for exploring this new terrain."
Professor Emeritus of Christian Ethics, Seattle University - Gary Chamberlain
"Peter Brown and Jeremy Schmidt have provided a timely, major contribution to the evolving study of water ethics. Readers will find seminal articles on a wide range of topics, from water resource management to property, rights, and policy priorities. Provocative and challenging, Water Ethics is a necessary read for guidance on water ethics and indeed the general human/nature debates currently shaping key policies."
Nature and Culture Journal for the Study of Religion
"As we move into the next decade of the new twenty-first century, perhaps no other issue will stamp its imprint on our consciousness as much as the global water crisis...Editors Brown and Schmidt have assembled eighteen essays that span one hundred years of ethical reflections on water, from 1909 to 2009, including their own carefully crafted concluding essay. The book is arranged as a chronology of understandings surrounding water ethics, understandings that have driven water policies and practices. The reader, then, is able to move through developments as they occurred in light of previous approaches. At the same time, the book spans a wide variety of philosophical and theological approaches...Although there is no one particular ethic that emerges in these collective writings, Water Ethics offers a glimpse of a major revolution in thinking about water and water issues. In addition to the general principles and philosophical arguments developed in the book, several authors utilize case studies to support and illustrate their positions. As the subtitle of Water Ethics indicates, these writings are not meant for a casual reader but are directed at students and professionals who work with water concerns. These concerns will certainly intensify in the next decades, and therefore, Water Ethics is a critical resource for current and forthcoming debates."
Journal of the American Water Resources Association
"I was fully engaged—heart and mind—as I read Water Ethics. For me, some of the philosophies expressed have moved me to action...I am glad that I read Water Ethics and I would not hesitate suggesting it to my colleagues...an emotional component espoused by Water Ethics is lacking in a purely reductionist view of water."
Water Alternatives
"[...] through offering this complex set of thoughful if sometimes mutually discordant essays, and in sewing them together with introductory remarks and the concluding chapter, the editors have defined a messy frontier where cultural values (ethics) manifest in water policies. More than delineating that frontier, Brown and Schmidt help us understand how that frontier has developed, how it seems to be changing (some signs of hope here), and where they think we need to go (compassionate retreat). For these reasons, this book is an invaluable addition to the set of resources available to water managers, policymakers, researchers, activists, and the residual category of 'concerned citizens.'"
Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
"Peter G. Brown and Jeremy J. [Schmidt] have taken upon themselves the challenge of putting ethics on the agenda of water experts (be it professionals or students). ...the book presents an invitation for applied philosophers (be it social, political, or moral philosophers) to join social scientists in developing an ethics of water governance. For ethicists, it is the challenge to go beyond traditional environmental ethics and to develop an ethics that does justice to the particularities of water. This book sets a modest first step for exploring this new terrain."
Chair, Canadian Initiative United Nations Water for Life Decade - Robert Sandford
"The way we are currently managing our global water resources has created a crisis. This important compendium goes a long way toward making sense of the often contradictory contemporary opinions on how to achieve sustainability. It proves that we must reconcile the ethics that drove water management decisions in the past with moral principles that respect ecosystems and future human life."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781597265652
  • Publisher: Island Press
  • Publication date: 1/27/2010
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter G. Brown is a Professor in the Departments of Natural Resource Sciences, Geography, and School of the Environment at McGill University. He is author of Restoring the Public Trust and The Commonwealth of Life: Economics for a Flourishing Earth, and coauthor of Right Relationship: Building a Whole Earth Economy.

Jeremy J. Schmidt is a PhD candidate and Trudeau Scholar in the Department of Geography at the University of Western Ontario.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Introduction 1

Chapter 1 Water Ethics and Water Management Jeremy J. Schmidt 3

Part 2 Dominion and the Human Claim to Water 17

Chapter 2 Editors Introduction 19

Chapter 3 Byzantine Heritage His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew 25

Chapter 4 Water Ethics Perspectives in the Arab Region Faraj Al-Awar Mohammad J. Abdulrazzak Radwan Al-Weshah 29

Chapter 5 Which Rights Are Right? Water Rights, Culture, and Underlying Values Rajendra Pradhan Ruth Meinzen-Dick 39

Chapter 6 Women, Water, Energy: An Ecofeminist Approach Greta Gaard 59

Part 3 Utilitarianism 77

Chapter 7 Editors' Introduction 79

Chapter 8 Water as a Resource William J. McGee 87

Chapter 9 Priming the Invisible Pump Terry L. Anderson Donald R. Leal 91

Chapter 10 Surface Water and Groundwater Regulation and Use: An Ethical Perspective Steven E. Kraft 105

Chapter 11 Understanding Transfers: Community Rights and the Privatization of Water Joseph L. Sax 117

Chapter 12 A Basis for Environmental Ethics Augustin Berque 125

Part 4 Water as a Community Resource 139

Chapter 13 Editors' Introduction 141

Chapter 14 Water Rights in the Commons Elinor Ostrom Paul C. Stern Thomas Dietz 147

Chapter 15 Encounters with the Moral Economy of Water: General Principles for Successfully Managing the Commons Paul Trawick 155

Chapter 16 The Legal Status of Water in Quebec Madeleine Cantin Cumyn 167

Chapter 17 The Rebirth of Environmentalism as Pragmatic, Adaptive Management Bryan G Norton 179

Part 5 Water: Life's Common Wealth 197

Chapter 18 Editors' Introduction 199

Chapter 19 Are There any Natural Resources? Peter G. Brown 203

Chapter 20 The Missing Piece: A Water Ethic Sandra Postel 221

Chapter 21 Fish First! the Changing Ethics of Ecosystem Management Carolyn Merchant 227

Part 6 Ethics in Complex Systems 241

Chapter 22 Editors' Introduction 243

Chapter 23 Ecohydrosolidarity: a New Ethics for Stewardship of Value-Adding Rainfall Malin Falkenmark Carl Folke 247

Chapter 24 An Ethic of Compassionate Retreat Peter G. Brown Jeremy J. Schmidt 265

Acknowledgments 287

Contributors 289

Advisory Board 293

Index 295

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