After school was my favorite part of the day when I was younger, and for a reason you may not think of right away. Of course after school was a time to celebrate the freedom from being out of school for the day, but after school also brought the afternoon sunshine monarch butterflies flutter in. Naturally, when the temperature grew cooler, the monarch butterflies disappeared somewhere. I started to think to myself, wouldn’t it be nice if I could keep at least one of the monarch butterflies warm? Before long, I was sweeping my net through the air to catch the lucky monarch butterfly that was going to get to live with me in all the comforts of my warm home. Finally, I introduced a monarch butterfly to his new home.
Looking at the monarch butterfly through the case he inhabited, I said to him, “I am going to take the best care of you, I promise.”…
I have grown since I caught the monarch butterfly, and my views on ethical issues in the environment have grown through this course too. At first, I thought we were going to learn interesting facts about the environment. Then, I realized after the first several days, there are a lot of interesting facts in this course, but this course has little to do with the interesting facts. In fact, this course is really about observing both philosophers and classmates answering seemingly unanswerable questions. As a result, I took portions of the most interesting aspects of other people’s arguments, and addressed them specifically through several prompts.
Despite how I addressed specific arguments regarding animal liberation and ecological ethics, I still felt like I was not answering fundamental questions for myself: How should humans treat animals? and How should humans treat their ecosystem? Fortunately, I noticed a relationship between all 5 prompts I chose for my final post. Starting from the oldest prompt, and working my way up to the newest, I noticed the topic of the prompts formed a continuum. The continuum grew from animal liberation to ecological ethics, with an overlap of both in-between. In response the continuum I noticed, I set out to make clear connections between my prompts. Ultimately, I hoped to arrive at ecological ethics and be able to reflect on the clear connections that brought me there.
The earliest prompt I selected for this post was Prompt 5, in which I discussed two quintessential animal liberationists, Singer and Regan. While I knew Singer and Regan were both animal liberationists, I did not know Singer and Regan held such different viewpoints on why animals should be morally considered. Admittedly, I thought philosophers would be in such a minority to begin with by studying animal liberation, that they could not afford to hold such opposing viewpoints as Singer and Regan. However, I learned from Singer and Regan that a large sub-division of animal liberation is moral consideration.
The two different ways Singer and Regan go about ascribing moral consideration to animals, carries on through my writing toward ecological ethics. On one hand, Singer ascribes moral consideration to animals through sentience (the animal’s ability to feel pain). Regan disagrees with Singer that moral consideration to animals should be determined by the animals’ ability to feel pain. Therefore, he contends that animals should be ascribed moral consideration based on their intrinsic value. At the time of writing Prompt 5, I did not see the implications of sentience and intrinsic value. Furthermore, Prompt 5 did not reveal whether I supported Singer or Regan’s views.
Understandably, sentience and intrinsic value seemed like obscure topics, solely related to ideas Singer and Regan shared. Then I looked at my next prompt I selected for this post, and saw the word intrinsic value. Inevitably, Regan’s name showed up again, but this time in contrast with a new philosopher: Warren. Even though I would not have considered a philosopher to be an animal liberationist if the philosopher did not ascribe moral consideration to animals, Warren challenged my belief. In order to see if animals did not need moral consideration to live a peaceful life, I examined the structure of a wolf pack in Prompt 6.
When I held Warren’s argument that animals do not require moral consideration to live a peaceful life up to a wolf pack, Warren’s argument held. Wolves do not need moral consideration to live a peaceful life. However, I also mention that even though wolves do not need moral consideration to live a peaceful life, humans may affect their ability to do so. Furthermore, a recurrent theme throughout the course has been the affect humans have on animals. A thought provoking question arose for me in the progress of writing Prompt 6: “How do humans impose the strongest affect on animals?”
While keeping this question in the back of my mind, I reviewed Prompt 7. Up until this point, I was loosely considering supporting animal liberation. After all, animal liberation seemed like the only option to consider. However, the precedence of animal liberation in Prompt 5 and Prompt 6 also caused me to feel an “inspiring tension”. The inspiring tension I felt caused me to think that there is something bigger than human intellect affecting animals. At the time, I did not know what the something bigger affecting animals could be, but I was inspired to find out. Then, the foundation for ecological ethics was laid in Prompt 7.
Although I didn’t realize it at the time, the word community in Prompt 7 would lay the foundation for ecological ethics. When I wrote Prompt 7, I knew ecological ethics focused on the community, while animal liberation focused on the individual. Nevertheless, I hadn’t integrated the terms individual and community into the context of ecological ethics. As a result, Prompt 7 captures my growth best out of all five prompts I selected for this post. On one hand, I was frustrated that what was best for the community seemed indefinable. But on the other hand, my frustration over defining community led to motivation toward learning more about community.
Although I was committed to the best for the community, two factors confused my train of thought: My grandfather and the woodchuck. Since my grandfather is a part of the community, and so is the woodchuck, how is there supposed to be a best outcome for both? I set out to answer this question throughout Prompt 7, suggesting that maybe the preservation of woodchuck life is better for the overall community. Then, I was quickly swayed in the other direction by concern for my grandfather’s sustenance. Ultimately, I was left with the question of whether to favor my grandfather or the woodchuck, and why?
Interestingly enough, the second to last prompt I selected for this post, Prompt 8, suggested how to view the woodchuck I discussed in comparison to my grandfather. In contrast to intrinsic value, which I introduced in Prompt 5, Prompt 8 introduces extrinsic value, which does not ultimately give me an answer to whether to favor my grandfather or the woodchuck, and why, but does offer a different point of view that has helped me clarify the ways humans interact with the biotic community.
As an example, Russow discusses species preservation as species preservation is related to extrinsic value. In short, species are preserved for their possible future extrinsic value to humans. Similarly, Russow might argue for the woodchuck to be preserved for possible future extrinsic value to humans. On a larger scale, Russow is focused on human obligation toward other species. Even though two new terms were introduced in Prompt 8, biotic community, and extrinsic value, I still sounded like I was describing something I didn’t know the name of.
Then, a term was introduced in Prompt 11 that holds the answers to all the most valuable points and questions I have been discussing. In addition, the term also satisfies my “inspiring tension”. Recall my inspiring tension, and how I felt like there is something bigger than human intellect affecting animals. Prompt 11 eased my inspiring tension by introducing the term, ecological ethics. While ecological ethics and animal liberation are both governed by moral principles, animal liberation focuses on the individual, while ecological ethics focuses on the community.
One of the most valuable points I made was that I had yet to integrate my view of the individual and community into ecological ethics. I believe that defining the individual and community role in ecological ethics is essential to the foundation of my ecological ethic. Finally arriving at Prompt 11, I illustrated the role of individual and community with a powerful example. There are billions of microorganisms that live naturally on human skin and help humans by warding off other harmful microorganisms. However, the same microorganisms that help humans can also cause disease if grown too rapidly. Therefore, humans need to kill some billions of the microorganisms by cleansing on a regular basis.
In order to effectively integrate my view of the individual and community into ecological ethics, I will compare how both the individual and community may be viewed in regard to the previous example about microorganisms on human skin. On one hand, let’s take an animal liberationist that extends moral consideration to the microorganisms. Being concerned with the individual welfare of life forms that an animal liberationist is, this particular animal liberationist would be appalled at each and every of the billions of lives the human is destroying to maintain the benefits of the microorganisms, at the microorganisms expense.
On the other hand, the average ecological ethicist would have no problem with the way the human and microorganisms are living and dying. Hence, the ecological ethicist is concerned with the overall welfare of the biotic community, while the animal liberationist is concerned with the life of each individual in the biotic community. In other words, the animal liberation sounds like a good idea. After all, no one gets hurt, right? Wrong. As this animal liberationist would quickly find out if he went as far as to stop bathing to save the microorganisms, life requires a careful balance between life and death to support life.
Moreover, I would like to ask an animal liberationist just what they think qualifies them to know what is best for the overall biotic community, when animal liberation focuses on individuals? In other words, animal liberationists are posing what is best for the individuals they consider. However, individuals make up populations, while populations make up communities. Therefore, animal liberationists are taking responsibility for the entire biotic community, even though they don’t have an interest outside the individual level. Hence, I see animal liberationists as missing the big picture.
To put it another way, life has been on earth for 8.5 billion years, while humans have been on earth for half a million years. Therefore, I have drawn the conclusion that our ecosystem is far better suited to sustain itself than by following an animal liberationist’s guidelines that is removed from the dynamics of how an ecosystem even works.
Even though I side with ecological ethics, I will dedicate the rest of my story to animal liberation.
…While I picked up the case the monarch butterfly inhabited, I smiled; happy that the monarch butterfly I was carrying would not be cold tonight. As promised, I also shared the comforts of my warm home with the monarch butterfly. However, I placed several of my favorite goodies to eat in the case, and the monarch butterfly did not eat any of them. Therefore, I concluded he must have been eating invisible food. Closing the day, I said goodnight to the monarch butterfly and headed off to bed. When I rose in the morning to greet the monarch butterfly, he was limp at the bottom of the case.
I would have done anything to save the monarch butterfly’s life, but sadly, I didn’t know what would save the monarch butterfly’s life. Similarly, I believe there are a lot of animal liberationists that believe they will save animals one by one if they try hard enough. However, like myself when I was younger, animal liberationists fail to recognize that there is something about the ecosystem that provides animals what we cannot. Inevitably, death is involved in the preservation of the biotic community that makes up our ecosystem. Thus, death is the price we pay for life.
In the beginning of the course, I choice [...]]]>
In the beginning of the course, I choice to discuss the statement: “Zoos are cruel because they prevent individual animals from living their natural life.” I agreed with the statement because I have a bad experience with zoo, also I feel zoo disturb the normal life of the animal. I think nature is where animal really belong to, wild animals would never behave natural when they are placed into zoo. The initial position I took in this prompt was ecological ethics. I simply believe that human should not disturb animals and leave them alone. Saving them in zoos would be just the opposite of what we wished. Onside we are saving them form the high competition of nature. On the other, we are actually taking away their freedom.
After reading Singer’s argument on human beings is not born equally, I developed the idea that not every creature should be treated in a same way. From the prompt 05, I feel my position started to change. I am partially agreed with the utilitarianism theory that similar interest should be counted as similar importance as the majorities. I insist everyone’s pleasure and pain including animal dose matter to us, and I agreed with Regan’s claim we should not discriminate based on contractarianism. Regan observed the equality we are looking for in utilitarianism unachievable. I found I had similar thought with Regan when he says “the satisfaction of individual’s interest should be base on the basic survival needs but not what we are frustrated about”. And it should be same in both human beings and animals.
Singer’s argument on human equality and Regan’s critique on discrimination really make me start to think whether human have more obligations on nonhuman and nature environments. I believed human have higher moral status and the better ability of reasoning. It automatically makes human beings have more rights than animals. However, having more rights does not saying we have right to do whatever we want to harm animals and taking profit from nature. It means we have more responsibility in taking care of the nature than others. Although it is very anthropocentric to think a species matters because they contributed to, or form an important part of, some other good. I think Russow’s point was right. It is very common we generally consider things based on its benefit and contribution. I realized humans should give up some potential profits they could gain to achieve being environmental friendly. We need to do way more than just merely saying.
In the further prompt discussing on Taylor’s theory “respect for nature” I disagreed with him on we should respect all living things. I thought it is too general and too broad to respect individuals because we cannot prove they are actually valuable to the nature or not. Although I disagreed with it, I really liked it when Taylor claimed, “one’s love of nature is nothing more than the particular way ones feels about the nature environment and its wild inhabitants.” Taylor’s assert make me realize our sense of obligation in nature preservation should base on love and most importantly, in respect to the nature. Finally came to Callicott’s idea of “family obligation comes before than national duties, humanitarian obligation come before environmental duties”. I agreed that would be easier to us if we broke down our biotic community into families and carry out obligations than we do it as a whole, but I cannot agree that humanitarian obligations come before taking care of environments.
After all reading I have done, I acknowledged that I was overlooked the human responsibility on the environment in my initial prompt. Leave animals and the nature alone would not solve the real problem. Zoos are necessary to maintain biodiversity but have to exist for nonprofit purpose. Although I believe human have higher moral status than animals, the nature should be conserved for not only human, but every creature in this world. That’s why I think I am mostly stand on animal liberation position but with some ecological ethics thoughts. Furthermore, now I feel I started to agree with Callicott. To developing human obligations has to be step by step. When basic survival needs are assured, we would have the ability to reasoning and to realize our obligations to the nature. After all, we would capable to make or environment better. That’s how my thought on humanitarian obligation should come before the environmental duties.
Prompt 01 http://cherieieie.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/prompt-01/
Prompt 05 http://cherieieie.wordpress.com/2012/01/14/prompt-05/
Prompt 08, http://cherieieie.wordpress.com/2012/01/18/prompt-08/
Prompt 09, http://cherieieie.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/prompt-09/
Prompt 10, http://cherieieie.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/prompt-10/]]>
I came into this class believing that mankind needed to protect the environment without giving any reasons for my claim. I figured we might as well do it because so many people thought it was important. In my first prompt I had to choose a question I wanted to answer related to the issue of environmental protection. I instinctively chose to answer the question “Should mosquitoes be preserved because they are part of the natural ecosystem?” Without really realizing it I approach this question using my own personal negative experience with mosquitoes. I immediately adopted an anthropocentric view stating that mankind would be better off without mosquitoes as their disappearance would have a more positive then negative effect on our lives. I latter came to realize that my answer to this question was really in contradiction to my belief that we should protect the environment and all of its living creatures in order to protect the ecosystem. In fact, upon reading another student’s critique of my post I came to rethink my answer. Do I only believe in animal and environmental protection as long as it benefits me? This question would become a key part of my quest to find a definite personal opinion on this issue.
I continued writing prompts and learning more about the different views and theories adopted by philosophers. Environmental ethics was a much more complicated subject then I originally thought. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find a philosophy that would be close to what I started to believe in until I read Russow’s article of the “traditional answer”. In fact, my prompt 8 was one of the turning points in my quest to formulate my own opinion. In her article, she explains that animals have inherent value and as such they should be protected from going extinct. I started thinking about the value animals have in my eyes. I had dogs when I was younger and having dogs made me happier; nevertheless even without dogs I was still really happy. I realized animals had a more instrumental value for me. Animals were a mean to achieve happiness and as such it benefited me to protect them. I started to think about cultural relativism and its consequences on my newly expressed statement. Do I only think about this argument because I can afford to? I had the chance to travel around the world and especially in Africa. Most people in poor African countries don’t care at all about animal rights and environmental protection, whereas in rich countries it is the opposite. I immediately thought about my previous question: “Do I only believe in animal and environmental protection as long as it benefits me?” I was eager to continue reading and ultimately finding an answer to my question.
Paul Taylor’s essay was another important factor in my quest to formulating my own opinion. In my prompt 9 I had to critique Taylor’s essay, “Human-Centered and Life-Centered systems of Environmental Ethics”. In his essay, Taylor explains his environmental theory using one main argument: we are all part of earth’s biotic community. According to him, the solution to the moral dilemma of environmental protection and animal rights is in realizing that mankind is part of bigger entity that includes all of earth’s living creatures (men, animals, and plants). Before this article I never considered myself as being part of a bigger group. We as humans tend to view nothing but ourselves as equals. Before reading this article I was also unsure about which subject I felt strongest about animals protection or environmental protection? The main thing I realized is that by using Taylor’s life-centered philosophy we could advocate for both issues because nature, and animals are part of earth’s biotic community. This holistic view of these issues was also compatible with my personal anthropocentric belief, which was further accentuated after having red the lecture on cost-benefit analysis. I felt as if I was progressively getting closer to my answer.
My prompt 10 was the last step towards finding my answer. In my prompt 10 I discuss Callicott’s “The Conceptual Foundations of the Land Ethic”. In this essay, Callicott tries develop his own theory as to how humans should view nature as being part of their own community in order to better protect it. On one hand he explores a more holistic approach when he talks about Leopold’s Land of Ethicstheory, and on the other hand he deals with a more anthropocentric approach, which is more individualistic in the sense that it only considers environmental effects on humans. This essay was the culmination of all that I believed in. Callicott’s philosophy is the only one that regrouped all the different ideas I believed in. I think that we shouldn’t separate the holistic view of the argument from the individualistic view. I believe that viewing ourselves as members of a bigger community such as Native Americans did (in his example) enables us to give a higher moral importance to the issue of protecting our biotic community. However, ultimately we try to do so only because it benefits us in the long run. As humans raised in a capitalistic society we are almost always drawn to making decisions that will positively affect us (cost-benefit analysis). As a result anthropocentrism is innate to us and I believe that environmental protection is just another way we utilize our anthropocentric beliefs.
Having found my own personal opinion on the issues of environmental protection and animal protection, I wanted to know if I was able to critique someone else’s view on these issues. In my opinion, being able to critique another person’s belief with thoughtful arguments is the sign of a strong and clear personal opinion. I decided to critique Andrea’s view on these issues in my prompt 11. As I red her prompt, I was surprised by the fact that she believed in the same ideas I did. She believes that Callicott’s theory is the “most do-able” and thoughtful compared the others we red so far. In her own prompt 10 she not only validates Callicott’s theory but she also advocates the possibility of his philosophy being adopted by the majority of people. I have to say I totally agree with her statements and her opinion on the matter. I think that Callicott’s environmental philosophy is the most complete one as it takes into account both issues of environmental and animal protection using both holistic and anthropocentric views.
After having gone through this class I feel as though I can really defend my newfound opinion against any attack. We live in a capitalistic society and, even though we learn that we should always act according to what benefits us more, I truly believe that viewing ourselves as being part of a bigger community will helps us define this environmental battle as one morally right and worth defending. This idea of “biotic community” is very important because it goes beyond the barrier of cultural relativism. In fact by viewing ourselves, as being part of earth’s biotic community we are able to reach all human beings (at least the majority). As a result, poor countries as well as rich countries will commit themselves to helping protect the earth and all of its living creatures.]]>
Throughout the duration of this course, I have developed my environmental ethic by assessing several arguments provided by students as well as philosophers and authors who are concerned with the topic. Prior to taking this course, I was aware of the human impact on the world and how [...]]]>
Throughout the duration of this course, I have developed my environmental ethic by assessing several arguments provided by students as well as philosophers and authors who are concerned with the topic. Prior to taking this course, I was aware of the human impact on the world and how our consumption of natural resources and treatment of animals has prompted movements such as wilderness preservation and animal liberation. However, I did not analyze how embedded these issues were in terms of systematic structures that promote certain behavior and take advantage of the human susceptibility to excess and greed. Out of the two major ethical positions concerning the environment, ecological and animal liberationist, I have concluded that my views are in the middle accepting aspects from both views while simultaneously leaning more towards an animal liberationist view. I have identified this view because I recognize the importance of an attitude of respect for nature but I reject the notion that natural resources should be preserved. Rather, I think a conscious conservation of nature while developing new methods and techniques to reduce waste and increase reusability is ideal. Also, I am a proponent of individualistic and anthropocentric perspectives while embracing the notion that moderation is key and essential to a harmonious biotic community.
In the second prompt, the class was instructed to take a quiz that presented various situations and scenarios that have become taboo, at least in certain western schools of thought. The scenarios dealt with several morally valuable decisions that were made by different people. Among the questions asked was the moral value of eating ones pets upon their inadvertent death, copulation between relatives, and the act of lying performed to a dying relative. I think that this introductory prompt was the first of a series of prompts that challenged our traditional and long held moral stances on certain issues. This enabled me to open my mind and equally evaluate arguments made by others that I reject just as I would evaluate them if they were arguments that I accept or hold to be true. This prompt was crucial to the breakdown of my moral views to their fundamental core, so that they were ready to be refined and supported with prevailing arguments and relevant discussions.
Prompt 4 was the first assignment that introduced me to an argument of any type belonging to the two major ethical positions concerning the environment. Peter Singer illustrates that although the prevalent idea concerning animals and humans are that we are superior, there is nothing that makes us superior and we are actually equal due to our inherent ability to experience suffering. He likens humanitarian movements that formed to combat discrimination due to race, sex, and gender to the discrimination practiced regarding individuals of different species. Singer refers to this practice as Speciesism and claims that we are guilty of speciesism when we impede the equal pursuit of interests of members belonging to other species. While Singer offers an interesting and convincing set of arguments, such as the fact that other species posses abilities other than rational thought that surpass our own abilities in those fields, he fails to provide a practical solution to the problem of speciesism. Upon reading Singer’s utilitarian defense, I felt obligated to acquiesce to his requests but found no method to accomplish such goals. I then found it necessary to seek practicality as one of the ground rules for accepting an ethical position for the environment.
After evaluating several critiques and arguments in the animal liberationist perspective, I found myself researching aspects of the vegan lifestyle and challenging beliefs I had in terms of eating meat and using animals strictly as tools instead of treating them as ends in themselves. While completing Prompt 8, I finally found an acceptable approach and starting point for developing my own unique environmental ethic. According to Russow, ascribing value to species, as a whole, is problematic and value should be ascribed to individuals. I immediately made the connection first illustrated by Peter Singer when he equated the animal liberation movement to comparable humanitarian movements for equality. Black people are not seen as equals because they are black but because they are individuals belonging to the human race and that qualification is all that is necessary for equality. In regards to speciesism, endangered species are ascribed higher value due to their probability of extinction. Russow adamantly rejects this approach because it is still favoring a group of endangered animals over those that are not. This approach fails at equal consideration but is still utilized by several groups claiming that they want to liberate animals and spread awareness of their equality. Only when the individual is ascribed inherent value is equal consideration practically possible. At the end of the course, I realized that Russows illustrations were one of the aspects of animal liberationist ethics that appealed to me. It equipped me with a lens that I used to evaluate further arguments, even those of the ecological school of thought.
The next prompt introduced me to Paul Taylor and his dynamic Bio-centric Egalitarianism. This was a critical point in my ethical development because the notion of an attitude of respect for nature was presented and at this point, I realized that balance is key and used this notion of balance to further develop my complete environmental ethic. Every prompt that followed either strengthened my resolve for my nearly complete ethical position or provided me with refutations that forced me to further reevaluate and refine my position. Taylor brilliantly illustrates the importance of a life-centered ethic that focused on the fact that each individual existing in the biotic community possessed intrinsic value and a teleological center that enabled them to pursue their own good. With his notion of respect for nature in mind, I realized that regardless of the human activity present in the biotic community balance is essential to a harmonious co-existence. But according to Taylor, this approach is only viable if humans reject their notion of superiority in regards to the rest of the biotic community. This requirement led me to discard Taylor’s total view and only accept components of his ethic, applying it to my own developing position. I think that anthropocentrism is the only practical perspective to have. We are human beings so what other view are we going to have? We cannot and do not know what it is like to be a tree or a chicken or a mosquito. Their experiences and interests are of importance to us and must be respected but certainly not equated with our own. If we were no superior to other animals and members of the biotic community, then there would be no moral obligation for us to have concerning them. The very fact that our rational thought is the basis for any argument concerning the environment, proves that rational thought makes us at least morally superior to other members of the biotic community.
Finally, prompt 11 instructed us to evaluate the arguments of another student. I chose to evaluate the argument of a student who favored and holistic approach. Completing this prompt enabled me to realize that it would be difficult to defend my position while it still allowed the consumption of natural resources and the eating of meat. But regardless of any argument I was presented with, balance remained triumphant and even led other students who accepted ecological ethical positions to agree with my formulation of an intermediate compromise of both positions with a favorable lean to animal liberationist ethics. These five prompts signify my growth and development. They also signify my most pivotal changes and where I challenge my own beliefs while evaluating and accepting certain aspects of opposing beliefs and views.
I am extremely ecstatic that I took this course and was able to find my environmental ethical position amidst intensive writing assignments, dense reading assignments and dynamic group work. This ethic will be valuable years after we all hand in our last assignment for this course and I will equip my same lens to evaluate my behavior from this point on and challenge myself and others to be self-aware and conscious in how their habits affect the environment and what a little critical thinking can do to benefit not only themselves but every member of the biotic community. My ethical position, as it currently stands, critically demands that every individual embody respect for nature and mindful, moderate use of natural resources. At the very least, even if one chooses to not ascribe value to the environment, balance should be employed to conserve natural resources for future generations and populations of humans as well as animals. The dynamic of balance transcends wither justification for ascribing inherent value and instrument value. Animals that are used for food, clothes etc. should never be treated inhumanely because we posses a give and take relationship with them and every other member of the biotic community. Compromise and balance are the most important aspects of my ethical position while individual value is essential to the anthropocentric perspective that exists as the secondary foundation for my argument.
Prompt #5 introduces the progression of my philosophical journey and development. Initially, I whole-heartedly sided with Singer’s arguments. I believed that humans were definitely different from and these distinctions should result in different rights. His utilitarian position made sense to me because I believed that consequences that resulted in the greatest pleasure of the largest amount beings are wonderful! Happiness is important so we should endorse consequences that bring about an abundant amount. Yet, I began to doubt my beliefs once I learned of Regan’s philosophies. He rejected Singer’s position both as an utilitarian and as an endorser of animal differences. He asserts that a difference in abilities does not equate to a difference in value. It is true that humans have many abilities that trump those of animals such as rationalization. However, this is true vice versa as well! Humans cannot boast to have the skills of flight nor cold-endurance without resorting to technological devices. As a result, Regan urges that we should not spend time arguing over differences. Instead, we should embrace that all beings are “the experiencing subject of a life, each of us a conscious creature having an individual welfare that has importance to us whatever our usefulness to others,” (Regan, 83). In other words, we are all blessed with an important similarity: inherent value. I embraced this concept and felt horrible that I initially believed otherwise. Regan goes on to point out a major contradiction prevalent in Singer’s theories. A utilitarian position would endorse vivisection if it resulted in saving millions of lives. If this act is moral, then one should agree with human experimental testing as well or be accused a speciesist. I was conflicted because I was definitely against human testing. As a psychology major, a bulk of our ethics addresses the immoral practice of implementing practices on patients that could potentially physically or emotionally harm them. In disagreeing with human testing, I must do the same with vivisection. Regan’s belief of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” awakened something in me. I realized that I cannot place more value on humans than animals. We are all creatures of the Earth who deserve to live and live well. In conclusion, I took on an individualistic position of animal liberation.
It is amazing how less than 24 hours later I was already questioning my ethics of animal liberation! However, in prompt 6, I couldn’t help but question the flaws of Regan’s arguments after reading Warren’s article, “A Critique of Regan’s Animal Rights Theory.” She is clearly refuting Regan’s concept of inherent value due to its obscurity and lack of a concrete definition. Although Warren agrees with Regan’s views that humans are not the only beings with sentience and mental capabilities, she is unconvinced on the concept of inherent value and that all beings possess the same moral rights. From this comment, I instantly thought up of several examples. If I was to preach Regan’s theory of inherent value, then it would be immoral for me to swat a fly on a hot summer day or cook up a steak dinner whenever I’m hungry. I thought that I definitely live my life tiptoeing around with a fear of committing an immoral act that violates a being’s inherent value. In conclusion, I realized that I couldn’t become a true animal liberationist. However, I found myself unable to agree with Warren’s alternate solution. She proposes to use “rationality” as the basis on granting moral rights and values. In other words, only humans can have a moral status since animals lack the ability to reason. This is a complete oppositional position to Regan. Although I agreed that it is difficult to grant both animals and humans equal treatment, I could not accept the concept of rationality to determine moral statuses. It would make me a speciesist to do so! As a result of analyzing Warren’s theories, I struggled with my individualistic position of animal liberation. I realized that I couldn’t be a liberationist due to the huge flaw of inherent value. However, I couldn’t find a better concept on why humans and animals should be treated differently. I was worried that I was actually a speciesist at heart and hoped to find something to readjust my philosophy.
Prompt 7 served as savior to my troubled conscience and reminded me of a belief I had right at the beginning of the course. I talked about my thoughts on the statement, “We should protect the environment to make sure we have enough resources for future humanity.” In prompt 1, I agreed with the position but not the reasoning. I learned that this rejection translates to a disagreement with the foundations of capitalism and the consumer model. In addition, I believed that the solutions our capitalistic society utilizes to deal with environmental problems are not effective. These solutions are based on a cost-benefit analysis that believes that “there is an environmental problem only when some resources are not allocated in equitable and efficient ways,” (Sagoff, 670). In other words, the consumer model only views the Earth has a supplier of raw materials. Furthermore, resources are viewed as “useless” or “useful” in terms of instrumental value. The consumer model cannot last forever but many of us are delusional and deny this future. Once again, I found myself endorsing that the environment should be protected due to its intrinsic value and not for our selfish gains. Put in another way, we should preserve the environment because it is what’s best for the biotic community. As a result, this post established the beginnings of my development towards a more holistic position of ecological ethics.
Prompt 9 tightly fastened my seat in ecological ethics. In “Biocentric Egalitarianism,” Paul Taylor rejects the popular centered system of environmental ethics. He asserts that this position is flawed because its consequences are applicable to only the wellbeing of humans. I agreed with this argument because humans are not the only organisms that inhabit the Earth. Instead, Taylor advocates for a “life-centered system of environmental ethics” which includes two different concepts: respect for nature and inherent worth. Taylor defines a respect for nature as living a life in relation to all the components that make up the natural world. I agreed with Taylor’s theory because it sheds light on the difficult problem of speciesism. There is no rational explanation why we should treat environmental ethics in terms of how it affects humans without entering the dangerous waters of discrimination. Instead, we should live life in respect to the wild plants, animals, and ecosystems because they have a right to exist as well. This may remind one of Regan’s theories of inherent value, but Taylor’s definition of the term is something completely different. He grants inherent value to living beings because of their interdependent connections to one another and their essential role to the biotic community. I have to admit that reading this article gave me a huge sigh of relief. I really liked the idea of inherent value but I struggled with supporting this concept. Finally, Taylor provides justifications to the obscure concepts of respect and inherent value. It reminds us that humans are not superior to other species because we are not separate entities of nature. In addition, Taylor’s idea of a life-centered system of environmental ethics encourages us to act in relation to the natural world because we are all inter-connected. This reflects the holistic ethics of economy: one should act for the good of the entire system. In conclusion, I found myself committing a complete flip from a set of individualistic ethics to an entirely holistic one in just a matter of days! At first, I struggled with Regan’s views due to a flaw that Warren pointed out. However, my beliefs were clarified by Taylor’s biocentric egalitarianism and I realized that ecology ethics was a better position to take.
Finally, prompt 10 secured the current environmental philosophy that I hold today. This post addressed the debate between the values of the biotic community and the individualized values of anthropocentrism. Before, I was a fervent endorser of the land ethic. This concept asserts that “a thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise” (Leopold, 231). In other words, this position does not look out for the well-being of an individual, who is not granted “the right to life.” What is given utmost importance is the system as a whole. I gave an example that the land ethic would deem it wrong for a famer to abuse natural resources for profit or for the government to leave a population of deer unchecked as they devour a forest. Unsurprisingly, Callicott pointed out a huge flaw of the land ethic that threatened by holistic philosophy. This came as no shock to me because I realized that it is impossible for someone to have a tight hold over a certain set of ethics; especially when this person “does” philosophy. Callicott’s argument made me realize that an ecological position would deem it moral to agree with “human culling” as well. Obviously, I found it hard to agree with such a method because I believed it was important to look out for one’s species as well. In order to resolve the debate between biotic and human moral communities, Callicott proposes a solution of placing humanitarian obligations over our environmental duties. In an instant, I had to disagree with this resolution. Callicott fails to provide any concrete definitions and guidelines on how to follow his solution through. Thus, one who preaches capitalism and the consumer model can take advantage of this flaw by placing value on human luxurious and comfort over the well-being of our biotic system. Although I disagree with Callicott’s answer to the conflict, I realized that he makes a good point. We cannot commit mass genocides in order to solve the problem of human overpopulation. Instead, a better solution would be to adjust one’s individual ethics to one’ community to match the land ethic. This includes the individual value and well-being of animals as well. In conclusion, I recognized Callicott’s valid attempts to point out the flaws of a holistic environmental philosophy. Although I disagreed with his solution, I realized that I needed to adjust my ecological ethics. At the end of this course, I have come to terms in accepting a combination of liberation ethics and ecological ethics with a dip towards the more holistic end.
I am very grateful that I took a class that focused on environmental ethics and philosophy. Though it offered the proper tools in developing my own beliefs on the issue, I learned the importance of practicing philosophy. Professor Davis-Shannon taught us at the beginning, “doing philosophy is the act of interrogating our set of beliefs and the beliefs of others, sometimes rejecting them, sometimes accepting them, and sometimes creating entirely new beliefs. Over only the course of three weeks, I was able to undergo all of these experiences! I rejected my superficial view on the environment and accepted an individualistic liberation position. Shortly after, I found myself rejecting the latter and accepted a more holistic ecological approach. In the end, I created a new belief that embodied a combination of both ethics. This class taught me a very valuable lesson that this is the best way to approach philosophy. Although I have established a certain environmental philosophy at the end of the class, I am ready for future changes and adjustments as I continue to interact with the world.
Link to Prompt 5
Link to Prompt 6
Link to Prompt 7
Link to Prompt 9
Link to Prompt 10]]>
Prompt 01 http://enviroethicsandrea.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/prompt-01/
Prompt 05 http://enviroethicsandrea.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/prompt-05/
Prompt 07 http://enviroethicsandrea.wordpress.com/2012/01/18/prompt-07/
Prompt 09 http://enviroethicsandrea.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/prompt-09/
Prompt 10 http://enviroethicsandrea.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/prompt-10/
As described in the goals of this Environmental Ethics course, I have obtained an understanding of basic ethical theories, modern environmental problems, and related socio-political movements, and [...]]]>
Prompt 01 http://enviroethicsandrea.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/prompt-01/
Prompt 05 http://enviroethicsandrea.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/prompt-05/
Prompt 07 http://enviroethicsandrea.wordpress.com/2012/01/18/prompt-07/
Prompt 09 http://enviroethicsandrea.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/prompt-09/
Prompt 10 http://enviroethicsandrea.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/prompt-10/
As described in the goals of this Environmental Ethics course, I have obtained an understanding of basic ethical theories, modern environmental problems, and related socio-political movements, and the capacity to articulate these ideas to others. I will now convey my own personal ecological ethics perspective and how it has been further developed in terms of animal liberation and ecological ethics over the process of this course. I have chosen to connect the ideas of the five previously listed posts because I feel they best demonstrate the arrival of my current ethical perspective and how my personal philosophy has been reinforced.
To grasp where my personal ecological perspective began in this course, I begin with my post to prompt 01 (http://enviroethicsandrea.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/prompt-01/), in which I analyzed the statement: We should protect the environment to make sure we have enough natural resources for future humanity. I did not completely agree with this statement. In this post I began by illustrating my values and where my point of view originates. As a cellular and molecular biology major I specifically enforced the importance of a balanced ecosystem. I conveyed my perspective when I stated , “The ethical and moral responsibility of the land owners, companies, employees, law makers and regulators is to ensure everyone acts and proceeds in a manner that is to best for the future us all.” I further argued that, “future humanity has much more to learn, gain and appreciate from it; and what we do now will have an impact. I do not believe industrialization or harvesting natural resources is bad, but how it’s done can be. Humans absolutely need to be more conservative with their consumptions of everything including food, water, land and energy.”
In my post to prompt 05(http://enviroethicsandrea.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/prompt-05/), I evaluated Regan’s proposal to the animal liberation position. Animal liberation ethics is an individualist approach. I introduced Regan’s rights theory and showed how it contrasted Singer’s utilitarian animal rights position. Both views gave animals/nonhuman equal rights, yet their basis for determining which individuals had value was different. Regan gave all individuals with inherent value equal rights, yet Singer gave equal rights to any individual that had the ability to suffer/feel pain. Although I did feel empathy for individual animals suffering, I could not rationalize committing all individual nonhumans (with inherent value) the same equal rights as humans because Singer and Regan failed to validate their theories. I did agree with Regan’s idea that animals and other nonhuman should be respected and have value. However, I feel Regan is too extreme in his goals in which he demands, “the total abolition of the use of animals in science and the total dissolution of commercial animal agriculture.” I agreed these practices need serious overhauling (to ensure humane treatment to the animals as well as better the safety regulations on products for human consumption are examples), but some of these practices are crucial (for the advancement in medicine/medical research is another example). Furthermore, Regan’s definition for what had intrinsic value was too broad, and I could not fully adopt his “rights view” because I found his goals (particularly 1 and 2) too rigid and unrealistic. I am particularly opposed to Regan’s “The Animal Rights Movement” and Singer’s “Animal Liberation” perspectives, because I do not believe that any individual animal/nonhuman has equal value to one of my children. Consequently, toward the end of prompt 05 I asked, “…I do not agree with the part in which it says “equally” because, how do we proceed and progress if everything on earth is equally valuable?” Since I did not know how to proceed with this philosophy and how it could be applied to my own personal environmental ethics perspective, I ended with this statement, “I am compelled to do something to change our current practices, and I do feel a moral obligation to help those that feel pain and suffer, but I am currently confused on how to go about it.”
In my post to prompt 07 (http://enviroethicsandrea.wordpress.com/2012/01/18/prompt-07/), I identified the consumer model in our capitalist society and how it influenced my perspective. Before the lecture regarding prompt 07, I had not been aware of the fundamental influence capitalism had on the world, our country, and all the policies and decisions we make. To answer prompt 07, I began by reexamining my response to prompt 01 and found that the reasons for my position, I still agreed. My philosophy had demanded some values that were independent of the consumer model. I showed the influence capitalism, which determines everything by cost-benefit analysis, has an ultimate goal of profit. Also interesting is the fact to which people tend to act differently when a decision is based on their own wants opposed to that of the community. It was shown that we are anthropocentric individualists, but we are more concerned with morality when deciding for the community as a whole. My personal philosophy had already appeared to have a goal of considering the biological community in all decisions. Not to say that I was not anthropocentric, because I admittedly expressed my desires for a good paying job to which I hoped the cost of my education would afford me. Ultimately, my concern was the power of the capitalist society which did not allow the influence and needs of all the citizens in policy making. In prompt 07 I recognized the potential for equality and wellness in a more socialist society as I stated, “In this type of economy the overall needs of the citizens and environment will be considered before profit. The gaps between societal classes will close significantly, as the basic needs of all people can be given and no longer be withheld for the lone purpose of furthering the prosperity of those already rich.” With that said, the basic theme from this post was my concern for morality and responsibility in all decision making before profit so that we may lead a safe, healthy and sustainable future.
In prompt 09 (http://enviroethicsandrea.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/prompt-09/), I continued my (now more aware of the capitalist role) perspective and I chose to focus on Taylor’s respect to nature principle because I felt it tied in well with my own personal ecological perspective. I began by asking myself and my fellow classmates who read my post, “why we humans should care about the rights of other species, especially when we are faced with so many challenges that are directly related to ourselves and our society? How do we determine the relative importance of lives other than humans? In other words, how should we think if we are not being completely anthropocentric?” To try and answer these questions from my personal ecological perspective I presented my analysis of the essay “Biocentric Egalitarianism”, written by Paul Taylor. I assessed that Taylor believed that all living individuals have equal inherent worth based on our respect for nature in a life-centered system of environmental ethics. His goal was to persuade the majority to shift from an anthropocentric view to a moral attitude. I illustrated that Taylor’s life-centered system was based on two principles: respect to nature, and inherent worth. I also pointed out that where Regan and Singer had fallen short to justify their reasoning, Taylor claimed to have defined inherent value to non-humans if we adopt his two principles (respect to nature, and inherent worth) in the life-centered system. In post 09, I focused on the respect to nature principle. Taylor defined this as, “a certain ultimate moral attitude toward nature…” I believed this principle tied in well with my own personal ecological perspective.
I expressed the value in all of the biological community, because each species is essential in the balance required for life and therefore felt a moral obligation to “respect nature” as well as individuals. This post illustrated my perspective developement in that I can further elaborate my position for and opposed to particular ethicists and recognized particular points in positions from an anthropocentric view and more of a life-centered system. Up to this point the concept I most identified with as a whole was Taylor’s because he included the respect to nature and the inherent value of others which I believe are valid considerations in making decisions which inevitably affect all life.
In my post to prompt 10(http://enviroethicsandrea.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/prompt-10/) is where I finally find an ethical concept that seems fit all the fundamentals of my personal ecological ethics perspective. I presented J. Baird Callicott’s (professor of philosophy and natural resources) defense to Leopold’s “Land Ethic” in the essay “The Conceptual Foundations of the Land Ethic.” In this post I depicted Callicott’s success in demonstrating the value and practicality of the Land Ethic. The Land ethic was different in the previous positions in that it is a holistic ethics approach. This is different from the individualist animal liberationists because holistic ethics is concerned with the species, rather than individuals, and the entire biological community as a whole. Another major point in which I accepted the Land Ethic is that in which Leopold acknowledges the self-interested nature of humans and understands that we will tend to make decisions based from an anthropocentric view but this will not completely undermine or deny the execution of his plan like that of previous proposals. I pointed out that Callicott is able to show the land ethic is not extreme on either end of the environmental ethics spectrum, consequently making it the most applicable to adopt as a way of life in our society. Like my own personal perspective there is an obligation of respect toward nature and other beings so that we may live in a way that allows the entire biological community to become and remain sustainable for a healthy future. As I previously stated in prompt 01, “The ethics and moral responsibility of the land owners, companies, employees, law makers and regulators is to ensure everyone acts and proceeds in a manner that is to best for the future us all.” The land ethic does not give equal rights to all animals but allows us to live in a more cohesive environment where the priority is morality toward a better future for us all, without making everyone become vegetarian, or end the use of vital animal testing or agriculture, or completely stop the cultivation of natural resources. I believe the land ethic is comprehensive and lenient enough to bring about the goals of my personal ecological ethics perspective. In conclusion of learning about the land ethic, I believe I can now answer the question I posed in prompt 05, “I am compelled to do something to change our current practices, and I do feel a moral obligation to help those that feel pain and suffer, but I am currently confused on how to go about it.”
This course has allowed me to further develop my interpretation and understanding of my own personal ecological ethics perspective, as well as others. My perspective has been reinforced in its value to my life and the biological community as a whole. I now better understand the motives of animal liberationist, environmental ecologists, utilitarians, deontologists, and capitalists. This knowledge will influence how I live my life and practice my own philosophy.]]>
And so the course comes to an end with one last post, a fitting end indeed. I found this course to be both a struggle at times and at other times a complete pleasure, the assignments hardly being taxing at all to complete. But in the end it’s not my opinion of [...]]]>
And so the course comes to an end with one last post, a fitting end indeed. I found this course to be both a struggle at times and at other times a complete pleasure, the assignments hardly being taxing at all to complete. But in the end it’s not my opinion of my work that matters but instead the lessons I have gained as a result of it and the conclusions I have drawn from the reviewing of it. As I reflect back on this course I cannot help but think that there are things I now believe have changed in me, I have adopted mindsets formally unknown to me thanks both the information presented by the course itself and by my reading/analysis of my classmates work. But what if anything did I gain for this course?
As I discussed in my prompt 11 I believe that my journey throughout this course wasn’t what I expected, I would of laughed if I was told I would be in this mindset at the end of this course if I was told at the beginning. I have come to the conclusion that my mindset, my general philosophy of the world hasn’t really changed at all, in fact I believe this course has done exactly what I thought it wouldn’t do, reaffirm my current beliefs that I also held at the beginning of the course. In terms of an ecological ethics vs. animal liberation argument I am firmly entrenched on the ecological ethics side of the debate, I simply cant find myself concerned with the rights and/or treatment of individual animals when dealing of an issue of this scale, the issue being humanities treatment of the greater environment.
My goal throughout this course, my core belief from day one is promoting in human beings a respect for the greater ecosystem we exist as merely a part of. I believe that while we are indeed the dominant, most influential species on this planet I also firmly believe that this power we have doesn’t give us the write to abuse the of the environment to fulfill our own desires. In the media I see many people calling for an immediate halt to our consumption of natural resources or the consuming if animals for food, I find these goals to be unattractive, unrealistic and ultimately unobtainable. Instead I support the idea of reining humanity in, and promoting discipline among human beings so that we may learn to respect nature helping both ourselves and the greater environment.
If anything my very first prompt proves that the mindset I had in the beginning of class was one that is for the support of animals. My argument acknowledges that while individual animals have to suffer in order for us to survive, meat is a part of our diet that does not mean we should have the right to mistreat animals before they are slaughtered. I included a quote from my scoutmaster that said ” …that once an animal was dead it was no longer an animal, just potential food, but that did not mean that an animal didn’t have the right to a clean death. ” I included this quote to highlight the importance of this mindset, just because something is eventually going to be slaughtered for food doesn’t mean it needs to suffer anymore than it needs too. While the idea of respect while discussing slaughtering animals (I need a better word then “slaughter”) still bothers me to some extent I firmly support this belief.
My first prompt shows that from the very beginning that I have an established belief in the respect for animals, instead of preventing suffering all together I promote a stop of all unnecessary suffering. However my first prompt also highlights what I feel is another key aspect of my prompts, comments, etc the idea of uncertainty, of self doubt. Throughout my work as much as I advocate the respect of animals I also actively encourage the challenging of my beliefs, in a way I feel there were times where I almost wanted to be proved wrong! This theme is the underlying tone with which my work operates.
I chose to discuss my fourth prompt because it establishes another key part of my overall belief system, that belief being that while I advocate a respect for animals I don’t support the idea that animals are in any way equal to human beings and be treated as such. Early on in the class I found myself seeing that if an author believed in an inherent value to animals and argued for the respect of animals they were also trying to promote the idea that animals should be considered equally to human beings. Upon reflection I found this to be my greatest failure in my early writings (besides grammar), that I wasn’t able to separate specific philosophical concepts from each other. For this reason my doubt of my own beliefs became even stronger, I failed to grasp the idea that I could see an inherent value in animals but at the same time not see them equal to human beings. My analysis of the Singer text establishes that I don’t believe this concept and while my doubts particularly surface in the prompt itself the comments I made to my fellow students show a certain level of doubt to them. I remember at this point feeling very torn because I was unable to separate these two concepts from each other, something which in retrospect I find to be quite amusing if not slightly embarrassing.
My seventh prompt contributes to my overall argument by taking belief in the superiority of human beings and forcing me to elaborate on it. My applying a cost-benefit analysis to my classmate Nick Marhsall’s work I was able to show that his prompt supported environmental protection based on the idea that by doing so one was also benefitting humanity. Another key part of my overall argument, that much of what I support in terms of wilderness preservation I support because I see the possible benefits to humanity as well as to the rest of nature. Meaning that while I see human beings as ultimately more important I also acknowledge that much of what is beneficial to nature is also beneficial to human beings as well. I believe it was important to restate this because I want to make it clear that while I am advocating for wilderness preservation it is done first and foremost for the benefit of mankind. As I stated in the final sentence of my prompt “My argument is a pro-environment one but it is done for the benefit of human beings and only human beings, the benefit to animals is largely irrelevant to me in this prompt.”
To recap I have stated that I stated that I firmly support a respect for animals, that they do indeed have inherent value. However this value is not equal to that of human beings nor should it have any influence on our actions, our actions can and should be justified by reflecting on what is most beneficial to humanity. But at the same time I have doubts about my own beliefs and welcome a challenge to them. How did these beliefs hold up as we transitioned into the second half of the course?
My eighth post further discusses my idea that the preservation of nature can be done for the benefit of mankind. This prompt highlights the concept that I feel is my primary justification, the idea that what is good for the environment is often what is good for humanity because we are in fact, a part of the greater environment. My aim was to show that I saw this fact (what is good for the environment can also be good for humanity) while also highlighting my strong anthropocentric mindset. But why mention this post? Nearly all of my posts contain some level of the same argument and could highlight a human focused mindset as well. I chose to focus on this prompt because it focuses on something that had not surfaced for several prompts, my feelings of doubt. At the end of my prompt I found myself actively questioning my own beliefs. I highlight his when I say “Time and time again I find myself attacking this mindset critically but I still cannot bring myself to believe any reason other than why what is the best for humanity is ultimately the best choice to make”. I actively promote my own beliefs while at the same time welcome people to challenge them, in a sense I almost want to be proved wrong. In reflection my inability to deliver a counter argument served as a justification for my beliefs.
My prompt eleven is ultimately the culmination of my beliefs it is where I state once and for all that my beliefs, my general life philosophy is a human focused one. I go as far as to state that I only see wilderness preservation as “a means to an end” that end being a better world for humanity. However my original belief, my respect for nature also surfaces in a strong way. I argue that while I believe in the superiority of humanity that does not give humanity justify abuse by humanity on other members of the greater environment. It was here that I think once and for all I finally was able to separate equality arguments and respect arguments, which in reflection was one of my biggest hindrances throughout the course. For this reason alone I felt warranted to mention my eleventh prompt. It was not some big, mind blowing change within myself but instead a simple subconscious separation of two concepts that had a profound impact on my overall mindset.
In reflection my journey through this course was honestly, lack-luster at first viewing. Instead of the long awaited grand philosophical revelation (Yes I was hoping for something like that) I instead found myself with justification of my original beliefs. But as I thought about it more I could not help be feel happy and acknowledge what I have gained. I came in actively challenging my own beliefs, wanting to be changed and ultimately came out reaffirmed in everything I believe. That was the gift this course has bestowed upon me, the acceptance and more importantly the comfort that despite all the analysis, critique, reanalysis and reflection I still held my ground. Will my beliefs change in the future? Perhaps. But for now I can operate with confidence knowing that everything I believe now isn’t some dogmatic, media-driven belief system I accepted without a second thought but something I have analyzed, critiqued and only then allowed myself to accept it.]]>
This class really helped to put things into perspective when it comes to the human condition. In a way I am quite critical of the human species and I blame us greatly for what we have done to the environment and the conditions that we force animals to live in for our sake. But in another way, it’s hard to put the blame on humans when originally, we didn’t have any clue of what our factories would do to the air and water quality, nor did we know how earth’s ecology would be changing as a result of our deeds. We didn’t know this a few decades ago. But now we have the power of science and education to guide us in renovation and innovation so we can hope to have a future that doesn’t consist of blisteringly hot temperatures or a potential ice age. What made me sad about taking this class was realizing we have a pressing issue on our hands… on the hands of all seven billion people on this earth, and we have yet to find a solution or a method to mobilize the greater majority of earth’s human population to begin to change. This tells me that truly meaningful change is unlikely, which means we can guess how bleak our future will be.
I believe that the solution to our problems is to first face the socioeconomic problems that are threatening the people, may it be capitalism or environmental justice. My first post http://www.tumblr.com/edit/15622932229?redirect_to=%2Fdashboard%2F2%2F15955219732%3Flite dealt with vegetarianism and my belief that killing animals for our own sake was wrong. I have gained some new perspective on animal rights, such as the varying degrees of inherent worth, and I still feel like we have to encourage the people to buy free-range meats and decreased meat consumption overall. In my 4th post, Singer brought to my attention the disconnect people have between their daily habits and the practices they indirectly condone (with animals and the environment). http://www.tumblr.com/edit/15783302154?redirect_to=%2Fdashboard%2F2%2F15955219732%3Flite I think that we should educate the masses on what kind of life the animals lead in the factory-farms and how immoral it is to leave living, breathing, feeling beings in this type of condition. This would be greatly beneficial to many Americans, especially those who suffer health problems like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes; and this would help the thousands of animals who live in the cruel farms only to be sent to the slaughter. This would also be good for the environment as well because the amount of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere from these factory-farms would be decreased as well. We have to help make free-range meats cheaper to encourage people to make the greener choice.
Later, with prompt 6 http://www.tumblr.com/edit/15955219732?redirect_to=%2Fdashboard, I let go of some of my ideals to be more practical and reasonable with my claims to say that Warren was quite correct; we shouldn’t kill animals unnecessarily nor do them cruel harm. It’s not feasible to wish that everyone would become a vegetarian, so why not reform the way we kill animal to be a more humane process so the animals can die with a little dignity. We are rational, logical beings but that doesn’t make us any better than our animal counterpart. We need them far more than they need us, so why not treat them with a little respect? We are newcomers to this this earth relative to those who have dwelled here for millions of years and thus we have no right to change the earth and the ecological cycle for our sakes.
Though I advocate strongly for animal rights, I’ve discovered through this course that I actually care more for environmental rights that I do for animal rights, since they are conflicting opinions. I realized in prompt 7 that humans tend to be very anthropocentric and specieist, but it’s in our genetic code to be so; it’s how we have been able to survive on this earth. But we have sacrificed our earth, our only home, in the name of our consumerism, where what we have isn’t good enough and we’ll always want more and better. I feel like that’s what makes us such a threat to the environment, because our needs and wants are at the expense of the environment. We need a car that emits carbon dioxide. We want fresh fruits (that end up laced with pesticides). We want fresh water that comes in bottle form where the plastic ends up in a landfill. We want all these things, but we also want a sustainable earth. We have to start making some exceptions and start sacrificing our wants for our needs because we may want that brand new jacket, but we need a planet to live on. Humans need to start sorting out their contradictions better. http://www.tumblr.com/edit/16013443284?redirect_to=%2Fdashboard
Finally, in post 9 http://www.tumblr.com/edit/16110416696?redirect_to=%2Fdashboard, I came to adopt life-centered ethics as an all-encompassing compromise between environmental ethics and animal ethics. I think it’s important to care about humans and animals, but we are heavily reliant on the trees and the plants that provide a base for the food chain and they also have the power to help reverse our carbon output. They are a part of life and therefore, we should respect them and give them consideration too. The part of Taylor’s piece that really put this class in perspective for me was when he pointed out that humans are more dependent on the environment than the environment is on us. We are an unnecessary, and arguable unwanted being on this earth compared to the trees in the forest and the fish in the sea. We have put ourselves on a pedestal overlooking this earth as though we are the kings and the land and animals are our subjects subjected to our will. I hope we will take strides to change and to make ourselves equal to the commons. I hope that we realize we have the power to change our future because it’s not yet written in stone and I hope that we pass along our knowledge and education because it’s the strongest tool we have.]]>
In my prompt 4 I discovered how much I appreciate emotion connections between individuals in regards to my philosophy. Singer describes how the imbecile is cannot be held accountable for his/her level of mental acuity, and thus is immoral to take advantage of an imbecile because the imbecile is not at fault for being irrational. Mulling this over, I reason that “an imbecile may have a blunted capability to deliver, recognize, react to and appreciate emotion. If moral ethics are based on one’s ability to interact with emotion, it can be argued that an imbecile cannot feel emotions at the same level a normal human being could.” What I am saying is that an imbecile may not have the mental ability to recognize emotional cues such as great suffering or exuberant joy. Because of this, I reason that if this is the case, it may be justified to treat imbeciles with less emotion because they would have a blunted ability to feel it. For instance, if one’s moral unit was amount of pain felt, and an individual (imbecile) may not be able to feel pain above the threshold that individual considers significant and then it can be justified to treat the imbecile differently. In retrospect, I realize that my discussion of the imbecile is reasoning behind my foundations for emotional connections between individuals, which later set up by animal liberationist perspective. Later in this prompt, I also disparage speciesism, writing that it is “an ego-driven belief system that is unethical and morally flawed.” Interestingly enough, I develop this opinion further in the following prompts.
In prompt 5, I build on my emphasis of emotional connection developed in prompt 4 through my refute of Regan’s “equal inherent value”. I assert that there is no reason to hold everything as having equal inherent value, as all other individuals can still be treated with respect, but don’t all deserve the same emotional connections. I reason that if every individual has equal inherent value, then nothing is special. I realize at this point my embrace of subjective claims, how I want other individuals to love other individuals unequally, so that each individual establishes a specific uniqueness about them that makes one-on-one interactions meaningful. I further claim that without defining what is uniquely special to each of us, we are left with a diminished sense of motivation as I believe that it is the unconditional love of specific individuals or things that drive us (Further emphasis on animal liberationist). I also embrace speciesism in my arrival to this point. I state that speciesism is often a driving force behind positive actions and that it isn’t simply an anthropocentric belief that one’s species is the best, but is merely a philosophy of being in favor of one’s own positive experiences in life. I assert that one’s emotional feelings, whether developed through selfish or selfless means, are “still governed by the feelings that the individual felt themselves, not the feelings anyone else feels. Even if you enjoy helping other people (making others happy) those feelings are yours and only yours.” I state that speciesism is not ego-driven and selfishness mustn’t carry such a negative connotation.
In prompt 8, Russow reinforced my embrace of the subjective judgment of intrinsic value. Russow believes that if we hold intrinsic value to be reasoning behind preservation of species, there must be a threshold of intrinsic value a species must possess to warrant consideration of its protection. Russow demonstrates the ethical quandary behind such a claim by posing the difficult question “Is the intrinsic value of a species of a mosquito sufficient to outweigh the benefits to be gained by eradicating the means of spreading a disease like encephalitis?” Russow is making the bold claim, which I emphatically agree with, that not only is setting up such a threshold an impossible and irrational task due to its subjectivity. It is here where I realize the true significance of subjective claims over normative claims based on descriptive facts. Russow’s claims that holding aesthetic value is specific to individuals, whether sentient or not, and it is the individual’s unique experiences with those things which the individual believes has inherent value that makes those things special. This reinforces my philosophy of allowing others to have theirs. Russow is also provide a direct refute of Regan’s claims of equal inherent value, which as I have stated I do not agree with. Furthermore, Russow establishes the significant ethical embrace of imperfection. She reasons that “…the fact that something has aesthetic value may be overridden by the fact that harming that thing, or destroying it, may result in some greater good.” I really appreciate this as I believe that no individual is perfect, and regardless of what each individual’s specific stated philosophy is, certain grayness of specific situation allows for individuals to hold precedent over things which they find have aesthetic value. This value of imperfection I hold onto into my further development of my final philosophy.
In prompt 9, I establish my foundation belief of a universal respect for nature through individual interactions by means of Taylor’s arguments. I interpreted Taylor’s argument that each individual (human or animal, sentient or not) is capable of pursuing its own good in its own way to be the foundational normative principle behind “respect for nature”. He states that adopting a respect for nature is to believe that it is a universal law for all rational beings. Thus, the concept of “respect for nature”, allows humanity to live by a universal set of dispositions that according to Taylor, will preserve the wild plants and animals of Earth’s biotic community. To me, this is the irrefutable logic behind the respect for nature that humanity must embrace. He builds on this argument (while I build my philosophy) through his “teleological centers of life” reasoning which I find to be a humble and compassionate attitude that allows individuals to appreciate how other species “realize their own good in their own unique way”. I find Taylor’s logical emphasis on respect through a deontological perspective, rather than an anthropomorphic one, to be a more reasonable and relatable approach toward changing our relationship with the biotic community. Furthermore, this continues my animal liberationist point of view by claiming that the foundational respect for nature is built on emotional interconnectedness of individuals. Also, Taylor makes the bold statement (which I agree with), that all animals demand respect equally and that humans are not superior to any other species. Thus, Taylor illustrates that regardless of what sentience a plant or animal has, there are no grounds for different treatment because every species has a good of its own that the species realizes in its own unique way. I can relate to Taylor’s argument the most out of all the philosophers we have read. His emotional appreciation for the subjectivity of individuals, while establishing universal respect of nature that is irrefutable, has become the foundation of my philosophy. Furthermore, this is achieved through individual interactions between individuals. It is here where I start to develop my philosophy that the animal rights perspective (emotion connection between individuals) is the basis for developing a positive biotic community.
Prompt 10 is significant to me not for the development for the land ethic, but because my response answers the question “where to from here?” In addition to all that I have learned from this class, one of the most important is that to me, a philosophy is meaningless unless it is enacted upon and can be used to determine future actions to change the world. In retrospect, my final philosophy was fairly set coming into this prompt, however it was this prompt that forced me to think about how I want to use my philosophy. Firstly, I want to establish that it is not the land ethic I am refuting, but Callicott’s and Leopold’s logic in making their claims. They make the normative claim that humanity must be an active member of the biotic community but then irrationally asserts that “family obligations in general come before nationalistic duties and humanitarian obligations in general come before environmental duties.” I find that there are no grounds for this. I reason (as I have established in the previous prompts) that it is up to the individual how much involvement that individual has in the biotic community. As long as the universal and irrefutable law of respect for nature is upheld, then no damage can be done to the biotic community while individuals may still engage in his/her own subjective experiences. Here is where I answer the question “where to from here?” I reason that Leopold’s argument of “going back” to nature by abandoning humanities gifts of advanced reasoning to be disgusting. I reason that we don’t have to abandon our warm homes, beds and supermarkets or live in caves and eat sticks to be members of the biotic community. We must use our gift of reason to be the best people we can be. Disregarding this would make us no different than monkeys. I state again, that it is up to the individual how they would like to be involved in the biotic community and at what level that will be at. Whatever involvement and level an individual decides to be part of the biotic community is fine as long as respect for nature is upheld and his/her actions are made with intention emotional motivations.
My development in this course has been profound. Throughout these five posts I have established my emphasis on emotional connection, reasoned that subjective holding of aesthetic value is paramount to these emotional connections, embraced speciesism for the positive selfishness of living a joyous life, valued imperfection in individuals, refuted normative claims based on descriptive facts, asserted the universal and irrefutable law of respect for nature and established a model to answer the question “where to from here?” My animal liberationist perspective speaks to my emphasis on individual interactions and unconditional love between these individuals. I believe that it is these interactions that accumulate to making up a positive, growing and ever-changing biotic community. The animal liberationist perspective is simply a means to an end for me. Finally, I assert that once these foundational ethics are established, we must use our intellectual abilities to further the biotic community in own unique ways so that we can make the world a better place. Thank you for this wonderful learning opportunity.
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