Ethics Updates


Environmental Ethics

Multimedia Resources on Environmental Ethics

  • Dr. Dale Jamieson
        Henry R. Luce Professor in Human Dimensions of Global Change at Carleton College.

Online Surveys

Internet Resources on Environmental Ethics


Government and Legal Resources on the Environment

Environmental Justice

NPR's Talk of the Nation

Interstate Air Pollution.   Date:  October 15, 1999.  Host:  Ira Flatow.  Guests:  Carol Browner, Administrator,United States Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC; Frank O'Donnell, Executive Director, Clean Air Trust, Washington, DC; David Flannery, Legal Counsel, Midwest Ozone Group, Charleston, West Virginia; Paul Miller, Senior Scientist, Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, Boston, Massachusetts. Description:  Recently, New York State announced plans to sue Midwestern power plants in an effort to curb the amount of air pollutants that are coming across state lines. In this hour, we'll look at the problem of interstate air pollution, and some of the ways states are trying to meet the standards imposed by the
Clean Air Act. (NPR Description)

Safety of Genetically Modified Crops.   Date:  August 13, 1999.  Host:  Paul Raeburn.  Guests:  David  Cove,Professor, Genetics, University of Leeds, England, Visiting Professor, Biology, Washington University, St.Louis, Missouri; Margaret Mellon, Director, Agriculture and Biotechnology Program Union of Concerned Scientists, Washington, DC;  Tony Cavalieri (Ca-val-YAIR-ee), Vice President, Traits and Technology Development Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., Des Moines, Iowa.  Description:  There is mounting concern about the safety of genetically modified crops. Consumers in Europe seem to be rejecting them out of hand and some food manufacturers in the U.S. are banning genetically altered foods from their products. But do our fears of "frankenfoods" have any basis in fact? Join Paul Raeburn and guests to discuss the science and risks of biotechnology. (NPR Description)

Genetically Modified Crops.   Date:  May 21, 1999.  Host:  Ira Flatow.  Guests:  John Losey, Professor, Entomology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York; Jane Rissler, Senior Staff Scientist Union of Concerned Scientists, Washington, DC; Calvin Qualset, Director, Genetic Resources Conservation Program, University of California-Davis, Davis, California.  Description:  This week, scientists announced that monarch butterfly caterpillars were harmed by eating pollen from a corn plant that had been genetically modified. Join Ira Flatow for a discussion about this research, and a look at the promises and pitfalls of bio-engineered
crops. (NPR Description)

Effective Environmental Choices.   Date:  May 4, 1999.  Host:  Melinda Penkava.  Guests:  Warren Leon, Co-author, Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists; Jonathan Adler, Senior Director of Environmental Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Author, Environ- mentalism at the Crossroads: Green Activism in America (1995).  Description:  In the last 20 years, it's become evident that some human activity is harmful to the earth. While the impact of industry on the environment is in many ways obvious, individual choices that contribute to environmental degradation are not always obvious. A healthier environment requires that consumers make informed choices about what they buy and how they dispose of waste. But how do you decide whether it's paper or plastic? Cloth or disposable diapers? Join guest host Melinda Penkava and guests to find out how you can make better environmental choices. (NPR Description)

Exxon Valdez Spill: 10 Years Later.   Date:  March 23, 1999.  Host:  Ray Suarez.  Guests:  John Devens, Executive Director, Prince William Sound Regional Citizens Advisory Council, Former Mayor of Valdez, Alaska (1984-1989);  Jim Polson, Editor, Oil Spill Intelligence Report (Arlington, MA), Former Senior Producer for Science & Technology, Monitor Radio (Boston, MA).  Michelle Brown, Commissioner, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Former Assistant Attorney General for Alaska (1978-90).  Description:  Ten years ago, more than 11 million gallons of crude oil spilled from the ruptured Exxon Valdez, off the coast of Alaska. The biggest oil spill disaster in U.S. history caught everyone off-guard. The oil industry was slow to respond, and the livelihood of an unsuspecting community was imperiled. Join Ray Suarez and guests for a look back at the Exxon Valdez oil spill. (NPR Description)

Environmental Education Host:  Melinda Penkava.  Guests: Kevin Coyle, President, National Environmental Education and Training Foundation; Michael Sanera, Co-author of Facts Not Fear: A Parents's Guide to Teaching Children About the Environment (Regnery Publishing Inc, 1996), Director and Research Fellow, Claremont Institute, Center for Environmental Education Research, Tucson, AZ; John Palladino, National Science Teachers Foundation Environmental Liaison, President, Pocono Environmental Education Center.  Description:  Many public schools now include environmental science classes as part of their core curriculums. Though some environmentalists and teachers see environmental education as a positive way to interest students in ecology, critics say the teachings are knee-deep in environmental activism and misinformation. Join host Melinda Penkava on National Teacher Day for a look at the controversy over environmental education and how to keep politics from dictating the curriculum. (NPR Description)


A Survey of On-Line Articles on Environmental Ethics

  For excellent reviews of recent books in environmental, see the web page on Environmental Ethics Books at the Center for Environmental Philosophy.

The Ethical Legacy of Aldo Leopold.  Lectures by Jane Lubchenco, Peter List, J. Baird Callicott, Chris Anderson, Dale McCullough, Gary Snyder, Laura Westra, Jim Boyle, Flo Leibowitz, Kurt Peters, and Estrella Leopold.  An excellent resources, presented exceptionally well by Bill Uzgalis at Oregon State University..

Stephen R. L. Clark

Tad Beckman, "The Relevance of Heidegger’s Thinking to Environmental Ethics."

William Grey, "Anthropocentrism and Deep Ecology," Australiasian Journal of Philosophy, Vol 71, No 4 (1993), pp. 463-475.

William Grey, "A Critique of Deep Ecology," Journal of Applied Philosophy, Vol 3, No 2 (1986), pp. 211-216.

Alvin Lim Cheng Hin, "Martin Buber’s Philosophy of Dialogue as a Foundation for Environmental Ethics."  Honours Thesis, National University of Singapore.

Justifying Value in Nature, The Electronic Journal of Analytic Philosophy, Issue 3, Spring 1995. Article include:

A Bibliographical Survey of Philosophical Literature on Environmental Ethics

Biliographical essays are drawn from Lawrence M. Hinman, Contemporary Moral Issues


In addition to the standard journals in ethics, see especially

  • Environmental Ethics, which has been a rich source of scholarship and theory on issues of environmental ethics; the tables of contents for current and all past issues are available on-line. Also see the journal
  • Between the Species, published by the Schweitzer Center of the San Francisco Bay Institute/Congress of Cultures; the
  • Newsletter of the International Society for Environmental Ethics, the most recent issues of which are available on-line; and the
  • Electronic Green Journal, which is published at the University of Idaho, is also available on-line.

Review Articles

See the review articles by J. Baird Callicott, "Environmental Ethics," Encyclopedia of Ethics, edited by Lawrence C. Becker and Charlotte B. Becker (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1992), Vol. I, pp. 311-314, and Robert Elliot, "Environmental Ethics," A Companion to Ethics, edited by Peter Singer (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991), pp. 284-293. Also see the articles in Environmental Philosophy. From Animal Rights to Radical Ecology, discussed below.

For additional bibliography, see the on-line bibliography maintained by the International Society for Environmental Ethics.


The Environmental Crisis: Opposing Viewpoints, edited by Neal Bernards (San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1991) contains chapters on pesticides, garbage, toxic waste, air and water pollution, and environmental protection. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Environmental Issues, edited, selected, and with introductions by Theodore D. Goldfarb, 5th ed. (Guilford, CT : Dushkin Pub. Group, 1993) also covers a wide range of issues with a balanced selection of readings as does Donald VanDerVeer and Christine Pierce, eds., People, Penguins, and Plastic Trees (Belmont: Wadsworth, 1986). The Environment in Question: Ethics and Global Issues, edited by David E. Cooper and Joy A. Palmer (London: Routledge, 1992) contains a good balance of theoretical and applied issues. Earthbound: New Introductory Essays in Environmental Ethics, edited by Tom Regan (New York: Random House, 1984) in a very interesting collection of original essays on such topics as pollution, energy, economics, ocean resources, agriculture, rare species, future generations, and moral theory. Also see Donald Scherer and Thomas Attig, eds., Ethics and the Environment (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1983). Environmental Philosophy. From Animal Rights to Radical Ecology, edited by Michael E. Zimmerman et al. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1993) is a superb collection of essays, with introductions for individual sections done by representatives of each tradition, including ecofeminism, deep ecology, and social ecology.

Responsibilities to Future Generations, edited by Ernest Partridge (Buffalo: Prometheus Press, 1980), Obligations to Future Generations, edited by R. I Sikora and Brian Barry (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1978), and Obligations to Future Generations, edited by E. Partridge (Buffalo: Prometheus, 1981) all contain articles about the issue of our responsibility to future generations for not destroying the natural environment.

For a helpful on-line listing of anthologies in environmental ethics, see Center for Environmental Philosophy's Selected Books page.


Richard Routley's "Is There a Need for a New, an Environmental Ethic?", in Proceedings of the 15th World Congress of Philosophy, edited by Bulgarian Organizing Committee (Sophia, Bulgaria: Sophia-Press, 1973), Vol. 1, pp. 205-10, was one of the first statements of a need for a new environmental ethic.

Kenneth E. Goodpaster, "On Being Morally Considerable." Journal of Philosophy Vol. 22 (1978), pp. 308-25, argues that it is the capacity to live (not mere sentience) that gives an entity moral considerability; also see his "From Egoism to Environmentalism," in Ethics and Problems of the 21st Century, edited by K. E. Goodpaster and K. M. Sayre (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1979). The Spring, 1995 issue of the Electronic Journal of Analytic Philosophy is devoted to the topic of "Justifying Value in Nature." Click here to go to the table of contents and full text of this journal issue.

On the issue of the relationship between human beings and nature, see Bryan G. Norton, "Environmental Ethics and Weak Anthropocentrism." Environmental Ethics Vol. 6 (1984), pp. 131-48; Tom Regan, "The Nature and Possibility of an Environmental Ethic." Environmental Ethics, Vol. 3 (1981), pp. 19-34; Peter Singer, "Not for Humans Only: The Place of Non-humans in Environmental Issues," in Ethics and Problems of the 21st Century, edited by Kenneth E. Goodpaster (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1979); and Donald VanDeVeer, "Interspecies Justice." Inquiry, Vol. 22 (1979), pp. 55-70.

J. Ronald Engel, "Ecology and Social Justice: The Search for a Public Environmental Ethic," in Issues of Justice: Social Sources and Religious Meanings, edited by Warren Copeland and Roger Hatch (Macon, Ga.: Mercer Press, 1988), pp. 243-266. For an excellent list of books on eco-theology comiled by John B. Cobb, Jr., click here.

On the relationship between feminism and environmental issues, see Karen Warren, "Feminism and Ecology: Making Connections," Environmental Ethics Vol. 9 (1987), pp. 3-20.


Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac: With Essays on Conservation from Round River (New York: Ballantine Books, 1970) is a classic of the environmental movement; J. Baird Callicott's In Defense of the Land Ethic: Essays in Environmental Philosophy (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988) is a development of, and defense of, Leopold's land ethic. In this same tradition is Rolston, III, Holmes, Environmental Ethics: Duties to and Values in the Natural World (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988) and Philosophy Gone Wild: Essays in Environ- mental Ethics (New York: Prometheus Books, 1986).

Among the more important works in this area, see Robin Attfield, The Ethics of Environmental Concern (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983); Hargrove, Eugene C. Foundations of Environmental Ethics (Englewood Cliffs N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1989); Passmore, John. Man's Responsibility for Nature: Ecological Problems and Western Traditions. New York: Scribner's, 1974); W. F. Baxter, People or Penguins: The Case for Optimal Pollution (New York: Columbia University Press, 1974) and Christopher Manes, Radical Environmentalism and the Unmaking of Civilization (Boston: Little, Brown, 1990); Mark Sagoff, The Economy of the Earth: Philosophy, Law, and the Environment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988); Paul W. Taylor, Respect for Nature: A Theory of Environmental Ethics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986) defends a biocentric account of ethics; Lawrence E. Johnson, A Morally Deep World. An Essay on Moral Significance and Environmental Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991); and Richard Sylvan, A Critique of Deep Ecology (Canberra: Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, 1985). Click here for a more detailed list of systematic works in environmental ethics, as compiled at the Center for Environmental Philosophy.

Summaries of Recent Literature on Environmental Ethics

For excellent reviews of recent books in environmental, see the web page on Environmental Ethics Books at the Center for Environmental Philosophy.


Suggestions for Discussion Questions and Term Paper Topics

Mineral Resources
  • The United States holds the rights to vast mineral resources. What policies should govern the sale of public lands for private use? Should restrictions be placed on the use of those lands?
Global Warming Policy
  • Imagine that you are the research assistant to a United States official attending a world conference on global warming. What policy recommendations would you propose that our representative support? What are the best arguments in support of those policies? What objections can be expended to them? What replies would you suggest?