THE FIRST EDITION of this book began as a conversation on the foundational nature of environmental ethics—by which the authors mean that virtually every area of ethics today involves taking account of the claims of the environment and that, conversely, environmental ethics involves virtually all other existing areas of ethics. At one level the penetration of the environment into the ethics of public policy debate has been clear: We are not surprised to see government offices, the business boardroom, or farmers involved in debates about environmental regulation and ethics. The newspapers and television and radio news are full of such coverage. Nor are we surprised by the expansion of personal ethics among much of the population to include issues such as recycling, not littering, installing appliances (washers, toilets, showers) that conserve water, driving vehicles with high gas mileage, not wearing animal fur or using products utilizing animal testing, and vegetarianism. All of these concerns are well represented among university students, as well as among much of the general public.
Earlier casebooks in environmental ethics—such as Watersheds: Classic Cases in Environmental Ethics by Lisa H. Newton and Catherine K. Dillingham—strongly linked environmental, public policy, and business ethics, focusing on issues in environmental politics that became major media events: Chernobyl, Bhopal, Love Canal, the Exxon Valdez, and others. But technological change has brought other areas of human life into contention with environmental ethics and broken down existing boundaries between ethical subfields. Technologies that allow humans to consider raiding animals for replacement organs or that create genetically modified crops and allow scientists to “restore” wilderness all raise anew two issues: to what