Earth's Insights: A Survey of Ecological Ethics from the ...


14 déc. 2012 (il y a 9 années et 1 mois)

362 vue(s)

Religions and Types of Ecology

An allegorical reading of Genesis

Loss of innocence is the price we pay for

Intelligence (knowledge/consciousness)
sets us apart from the rest of nature.
We have the capacity now for
exploiting the rest of nature to a
degree far surpassing that of any other
creature (which we have used).


Return to natural lifestyle

regress to primitive or even pre
human state, reject self
consciousness, knowledge, science
and merge with nature again.


Use our knowledge to protect the natural world, or at least
minimize our harmful impact. Accept that, while we are
animals, we are not mere animals. We have a special
responsibility due to our special capacities.

Science (knowledge/intelligence) could be both the cause and the

: a stewardship interpretation of “man’s dominion over nature”

Thomas Aquinas


Italian Catholic priest and philosopher

Set out to synthesize Aristotle and Christianity.

Brought dualism to Christianity

Identified the Prime Mover with the Christian God.

The teleological argument

Aquinas used the teleological argument, or argument from
design, to prove the existence of God.

i.e. Since the universe and everything in it is so perfectly
designed (has telos), there must have been a designer


Examples of perfect design:

Eyes are perfectly designed to enable animals

to see.
But also
: sun and rain are designed to

provide nourishment for plants. Etc.

The watchmaker analogy.

Natural law ethics

Aquinas also argued that since all of nature is the result of God’s
plan, what is natural is good.

Also, ethics are rooted in the natural order of things, i.e. people
didn’t create ethics, God did. Therefore it is in our very nature
to know right and wrong and to be held responsible for right
and wrong action.

Man’s nature (as Aristotle said) is to be rational.

The highest good is to realize your natural potential in harmony
with nature.

Francis Bacon


English philosopher, essayist and statesman

Proponent of the Scientific Revolution

Developed the “Baconian Method”, a precursor to the
modern scientific method

Said: “Knowledge is Power.”

The New Atlantis

Written by Bacon in 1626

Utopian novel (i.e. description of a perfect society)

Epitomizes Christian exploitative view of nature: nature is to be
twisted, distorted, manipulated and deformed in any way
possible for the benefit of mankind.

Presages modern issues such as genetic engineering, cloning and
animal testing

But presents all such manipulation and exploitative of nature as
unproblematicly good, with no envisioned downside or

Quotes from Bacon

“Let us establish a chaste and lawful marriage between
Mind and Nature…. I am come in very truth leading
to you Nature with all her children to bind her to
your service and make her your slave.”

“They [science and mechanical inventions] do
not merely exert a gentle guidance over
nature’s course; they have the power to
conquer and subdue her to her foundations.”

Reading for next week


“Argument from Poor Design”, Wikipedia, available at:


, J. Baird,
Earth’s Insights: A Survey of Ecological
Ethics from the Mediterranean Basin to the Australian
, Chapter 4: “Traditional East Asian Deep Ecology”
and Chapter 5:
Ecological Insights in East Asian
available on reserve in the Philosophy Department