THE ATTITUDE OF RESPECT
In this and the following two chapters the three main components of the theory of environmental ethics which J call “Respect for Nature” will be considered in turn. The first component is the moral attitude of respect itself. In the present chapter I shall offer an analysis of what it means for moral agents to adopt such an attitude toward the natural world and make it their own ultimate moral attitude. The second component consists of the biocentric outlook on nature. In the next chapter this belief-system, which constitutes a unified, coherent view of the world and of the place of humans in it, will be examined in detail. After its various elements and its internal order are presented, I will show how the biocentric outlook supports and makes intelligible the moral commitment involved when rational, autonomous agents take the attitude of respect for nature. The third component, to be considered in Chapter Four, is the ethical system of standards and rules that normatively governs the character and conduct of moral agents insofar as they have the attitude of respect for nature and accordingly are disposed to give concrete expression to it in their practical, everyday living.
In order to grasp what it means for rational, autonomous agents to take (or to have) the attitude of respect for nature as their own ultimate moral attitude, it is necessary to un-