Under pressure from the charge of ecofascism and misanthropy,Callicott (1989 Ch. 5, and 1999, Ch. 4) later revised his position andnow maintains that the biotic community (indeed, any community towhich we belong) as well as its individual members (indeed, anyindividual who shares with us membership in some common community) allhave intrinsic value. To further distance himself from the charge ofecofascism, Callicott introduced explicit principles which prioritizeobligations to human communities over those to natural ones. Hecalled these “second-order” principles for specifying theconditions under which the land ethic’s holistic and individualisticobligations were to be ranked. As he put it:
Each author rejects the possibility of this being a valid conclusion of philosophical ethics, and each instead offers an alternate solution to the origin of human motivation.
In earlier ethical theories, conscience was regarded as a separate faculty of the mind having moral jurisdiction, either absolute or as a representative of God in the human soul....
Read in this way, Aristotle is engaged in a project similar in somerespects to the one Plato carried out in the Republic. One ofPlato's central points is that it is a great advantage to establish ahierarchical ordering of the elements in one's soul; and he shows howthe traditional virtues can be interpreted to foster or express theproper relation between reason and less rational elements of thepsyche. Aristotle's approach is similar: his “functionargument” shows in a general way that our good lies in thedominance of reason, and the detailed studies of the particularvirtues reveal how each of them involves the right kind of ordering ofthe soul. Aristotle's goal is to arrive at conclusions likePlato's, but without relying on the Platonic metaphysics that plays acentral role in the argument of the Republic. He rejects theexistence of Plato's forms in general and the form of the good inparticular; and he rejects the idea that in order to become fullyvirtuous one must study mathematics and the sciences, and see allbranches of knowledge as a unified whole. Even though Aristotle'sethical theory sometimes relies on philosophical distinctions that aremore fully developed in his other works, he never proposes thatstudents of ethics need to engage in a specialized study of thenatural world, or mathematics, or eternal and changing objects. Hisproject is to make ethics an autonomous field, and to show why a fullunderstanding of what is good does not require expertise in any otherfield.
Engineers and ethicists participated in a workshop to discuss the responsible development of new technologies. Presenters examined four areas of engineering--sustainability, nanotechnology, neurotechnology, and energy--in terms of the ethical issues they present to engineers in particular and society as a whole. Approaches to ethical issues include: analyzing the factual, conceptual, application, and moral aspects of an issue; evaluating the risks and responsibilities of a particular course of action; and using theories of ethics or codes of ethics developed by engineering societies as a basis for decision making. Ethics can be built into the education of engineering students and professionals, either as an aspect of courses already being taught or as a component of engineering projects to be examined along with research findings. Engineering practice workshops can also be effective, particularly when they include discussions with experienced engineers. This volume includes papers on all of these topics by experts in many fields. The consensus among workshop participants is that material on ethics should be an ongoing part of engineering education and engineering practice.
Broadly speaking, a feminist issue is any that contributes in someway to understanding the oppression of women. Feminist theoriesattempt to analyze women’s oppression, its causes and consequences,and suggest strategies and directions for women’s liberation. By themid 1970s, feminist writers had raised the issue of whetherpatriarchal modes of thinking encouraged not only widespreadinferiorizing and colonizing of women, but also of people of colour,animals and nature. Sheila Collins (1974), for instance, argued thatmale-dominated culture or patriarchy is supported by four interlockingpillars: sexism, racism, class exploitation, and ecologicaldestruction.
Second, understanding these fundamental, yet divergent, moral perspectives often enables an ethicist to anticipate a moral argument. Just thinking about the two theories and the kinds of arguments they would support could have led one to expect that some arguments regarding intellectual property would take the utilitarian approach and others would take the rights-of-ownership approach.
ethics. First, the two perspectives can often be helpful for identifying and sorting out different types of arguments and for recognizing that different types of arguments have deep moral roots. In arguments for and against strict protections for intellectual property, for example, knowing that some arguments are utilitarian can be helpful. From the utilitarian perspective, protecting intellectual property promotes the flourishing of technology and, thereby, the good of society. Utilitarian arguments can also be made that strong protections for intellectual property limit the sharing of new ideas in technology and are thereby detrimental to the general good. Arguments from the respect-for-persons perspective often focus on the individual’s right to control, and reap the profits from, the fruits of his or her own labor, regardless of the impact on the larger society.
Third, familiarity with these two perspectives can sometimes help in determining whether there has been closure on a moral issue. If arguments from both perspectives lead to the same conclusions, we can be pretty confident that we have arrived at the right answer. If the arguments lead to different conclusions, the discussion is likely to continue. When different conclusions are reached, there is no algorithm, unfortunately, for deciding which moral perspective should prevail. In general, however, the Western emphasis on individual rights and respect for persons takes priority, unless harm to individuals is slight and the utility to society is very great. With these considerations in mind, we can now look at the two moral theories.
Emphasizing the importance of feminism to the environmental movementand various other liberation movements, some writers, such as YnestraKing (1989a and 1989b), argue that the domination of women by men ishistorically the original form of domination in human society, fromwhich all other hierarchies—of rank, class, and political power—flow. For instance, human exploitation of nature may be seen as amanifestation and extension of the oppression of women, in that it isthe result of associating nature with the female, which had beenalready inferiorized and oppressed by the male-dominating culture. Butwithin the plurality of feminist positions, other writers, such as ValPlumwood (1993), understand the oppression of women as only one of themany parallel forms of oppression sharing and supported by a commonideological structure, in which one party (the colonizer, whethermale, white or human) uses a number of conceptual and rhetoricaldevices to privilege its interests over that of the other party (thecolonized: whether female, people of colour, or animals). Facilitatedby a common structure, seemingly diverse forms of oppression canmutually reinforce each other (Warren 1987, 1990, 1994, Cheney 1989,and Plumwood 1993).
Although the existence of two theories rather than one may be an embarrassment to theorists, practical ethicists can take a more positive attitude because the conflict between the ideas behind these two theories often arise in real-world moral controversies. Common morality, at least in the West, may not be a seamless web. In fact, it may be composed of two strands: (1) considerations having to do with utility, or the well-being of the greatest number of people; and (2) considerations having to do with justice and the rights of individuals.
An often overlooked source of ecological ideas is the work of theneo-Marxist Frankfurt School of critical theory founded by MaxHorkheimer and Theodore Adorno (Horkheimer and Adorno 1969). Whileclassical Marxists regard nature as a resource to be transformed byhuman labour and utilized for human purposes, Horkheimer and Adornosaw Marx himself as representative of the problem of “humanalienation”. At the root of this alienation, they argue, is anarrow positivist conception of rationality—which sees rationalityas an instrument for pursuing progress, power and technologicalcontrol, and takes observation, measurement and the application ofpurely quantitative methods to be capable of solving allproblems. Such a positivistic view of science combines determinismwith optimism. Natural processes as well as human activities are seento be predictable and manipulable. Nature (and, likewise, humannature) is no longer mysterious, uncontrollable, or fearsome. Instead,it is reduced to an object strictly governed by natural laws, whichtherefore can be studied, known, and employed to our benefit. Bypromising limitless knowledge and power, the positivism of science andtechnology not only removes our fear of nature, the critical theoristsargue, but also destroys our sense of awe and wonder towards it. Thatis to say, positivism “disenchants” nature—along witheverything that can be studied by the sciences, whether natural,social or human.