Respect for Nature: A Theory of Environmental Ethics

By Paul W. Taylor | Go to book overview

ONE
ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS AND
HUMAN ETHICS

1. Introduction

Environmental ethics is concerned with the moral relations that hold between humans and the natural world. The ethical principles governing those relations determine our duties, obligations, and responsibilities with regard to the Earth’s natural environment and all the animals and plants that inhabit it. I shall use the term “the natural world” to refer to the entire set of natural ecosystems on our planet, along with the populations of animals and plants that make up the biotic communities of those ecosystems.

The idea of a natural ecosystem as it is to be understood in this book means any collection of ecologically interrelated living things that, without human intrusion or control, maintain their existence as species-populations over time, each population occupying its own environmental niche and each shaped by the evolutionary processes of genetic variation and natural selection. Two types of natural ecosystems may be distinguished. First, there are those that have never been exploited by humans and have not undergone any major changes as the effect of human culture and technology. Examples are remote expanses of northern tundra, mountain forests, savannah grasslands, cactus deserts, and the marshlands of river estuaries. Insofar as such ecosystems are left undisturbed by humans, they remain in pristine condition and their biotic communities exist in a

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Respect for Nature: A Theory of Environmental Ethics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword to the 25Th Anniversary Edition ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • One - Environmental Ethics and Human Ethics 3
  • Two - The Attitude of Respect for Nature 59
  • Three - The Biocentric Outlook on Nature 99
  • Four - The Ethical System 169
  • Five - Do Animals and Plants Have Rights? 219
  • Six - Competing Claims and Priority Principles 256
  • Bibliography 315
  • Index 325
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