Respect for Nature: A Theory of Environmental Ethics

By Paul W. Taylor | Go to book overview

SIX
COMPETING CLAIMS AND PRIORITY
PRINCIPLES

1. The General Problem of Competing Claims

In this final chapter I consider the moral dilemmas that arise when human rights and values conflict with the good of nonhumans. Such conflicts occur whenever actions and policies that further human interests or fulfill human rights are detrimental to the well-being of organisms, speciespopulations, and life communities in the Earth’s natural ecosystems. To put it another way, such conflicts occur whenever preserving and protecting the good of wild living things involves some cost in terms of human benefit. Clear examples are given in the following situations:

Cutting down a woodland to build a medical center.
Destroying a fresh water ecosystem in establishing a
resort by the shore of a lake.

Replacing a stretch of cactus desert with a suburban
housing development.

Filling and dredging a tidal wetland to construct a ma-
rina and yacht club.

Bulldozing a meadow full of wildflowers to make place
for a shopping mall.

Removing the side of a mountain in a stripmining op-
eration.

Plowing up a prairie to plant fields of wheat and corn.

Taken in and of themselves, the various human activities and projects involved in these situations do not violate any

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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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