My Personal Ethical Positioning/Reasoning

When I first tackled the question of what my worldview is and my reasoning behind it I stated that I found myself somewhere between Stewardship and Environmental Wisdom but leaning more towards wisdom. I think I remained pretty steady with that view throughout the remainder of this course and all of our class discussions. I do believe that humans are a part of and are dependent upon nature. We have taken advantage of and used the resources provided to use by nature in an unsustainable manner to produce the societies in which we live and one quick catastrophic natural event could wipe those societies out. We have to respect the fragility and power of nature and learn how it is that nature has been able to sustain itself and turn these lessons in to practices.

I believe that non-human species do have moral standing. However, I also argue that a certain amount of proportionality does exist, meaning, a horse or a monkey or a whale has more moral standing than a mouse or an ant. In this course we talk mainly about the moral standing of humans and non-humans in terms of other animal species but we don’t discuss the moral standing of plants at any considerable length. I think that we as humans have always been and will (for the foreseeable future) be the ones who have the power of placing or judging value in others and that this will always come with a certain air of dominance. It’s how we acknowledge and use that dominance that matters. I know that plants are an integral part of our earth community and I do believe that their worth is immeasurable to not only this planet but to the very essence of human life and existence. Therefore, I do believe that we must make every effort to protect plant life but I’m not exactly sure how this translates in terms of the moral value that does or does not exist in plants.

Furthermore, I am a strong proponent of shallow ecology or environmental pragmatism. I think that this type of ethic (be it anthropocentric or ethically neutral) fits in well with my worldview because it ascribes to the idea that resources are limited and we don’t have time to wait for a groundbreaking environmental ethic to emerge before we act. Leopold said, “to keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”[1] We have to work and take steps now towards preserving as much life, be it plant or animal, to make sure that if/when a solution and an ethic does emerge there will still be an environment left to care for. I think this line of reasoning is a result of or, at the very least, fits in with my work and mindset as a political science major and aspiring attorney. Environmental Wisdom advocates for earth-sustaining forms of economic growth and discourages the forms that are detrimental and degrading. I believe that there are practical policies that we can and need to put in place now that would promote these earth-sustaining forms of growth. If we do this now, sacrifice in the short term, I think we will foster an environment and a people that really start to buy in to an environmental ethic and wisdom. Doing the small practical things now instead of trying to create or waiting for an environmental ethic to emerge is not so much a sacrifice as it is a first step or building-block to that ultimate goal of an ethic.

[1] https://myfiles.fordham.edu/users/evanburen/4302/Miller7%20-%20chapter25.pdf, p.668.

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