Writing Prompt

Purpose:  One of the most difficult tasks when faced with a sometimes obtuse reading is figuring out why what the author is arguing matters at all.  In this assignment, we will work on connecting what an author says with the larger purpose of the course: the ethical standing of the environment.

Word Count: The best posts will be 600-800 words long.

Before You Write

In Biocentric Egalitarianism, Paul Taylor sets out to argue for a life-centered ethics and introduces two different concepts to do so: respect for nature and inherent worth (which might sound familiar ;)).  Choose one of these concepts and read the text with an eye towards being able to

  1. Define the meaning of the concept and
  2. Explain the importance of the concept in terms of Taylor’s biocentric egalitarianism (i.e. What does the concept do for Taylor’s ethical system?  Why does the concept need to exist at all?)

Pay attention also to

  • How you react to Taylor’s theory
  • Why you react the way you do
  • What Taylor’s main point is
  • How Taylor’s theory compares to theories like Singer’s or Regan’s


Focusing on the concept you chose, explain why that concept is or isn’t important to the larger discussion in environmental ethics. Most importantly, explain from the very start why it is important to the larger debate whether the concept you chose isn’t important.  In other words, be able to state what about the ethical standing of the environment is at stake if the concept you chose is or isn’t important.

This involves

  1. Stating what the concept is; defining the meaning of the concept; and explaining the purpose of the concept in Taylor’s theory
  2. Stating whether you think Taylor is right, wrong, or a little bit of both (Yes, No, Okay, but . . .)
  3. Explaining whether you think the concept is important in the broader environmental ethics debate and why or why not

To Do

  1. Read: Taylor: Biocentric Egalitarianism [205-221]
  2. Read: Graff/Birkenstein: Chapter 7: ”So What? Who Cares?” Saying Why It Matters [92-101]
  3. Post: Prompt 09 | Due 1:00 PM EST
  4. Comment: On at least 3 Group Member posts | 1st Due 8:00 PM EST | All Due Jan 20, 8:00 AM EST
  5. Read: Learning Path Readings:

Wilderness Preservation:


  • Wenz: Just Garbage: The Problem of Environmental Racism [530-539]

Climate Change:

  • Dawson: Climate Justice: The Emerging Movement against Green Capitalism [481- 497]

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