AP Environmental
Science
Mr. Grant
Lesson 6
Environmental Ethics and
Economics: Values and Choices
Culture, Worldview, and the
Environment
&
Environmental Ethics
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.
Objectives:
• Define the term anthropocentrism.
• Characterize the influences of culture and worldview on the
choices people make.
• Outline the nature, evolution, and expansion of environmental
ethics in Western cultures.
• Compare the major approaches in environmental ethics.
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.
Define the term anthropocentrism.
A human-centered view of our relationship with the
environment.
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.
Characterize the influences of culture and
worldview on the choices people make.
A person’s culture influences his or hers worldview. Factors
such as religion and political ideology are especially
influential.
Ethics and economics involve values
Culture and worldview
Worldviews differ among people
• Well-meaning people can support or oppose an action
• Some support uranium mines
o Jobs, income, energy, economic growth
• Opponents see other impacts
o Destroyed land, pollution, radiation poisoning
o Community disruption, substance abuse, crime,
etc.
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.
Characterize the influences of culture and
worldview on the choices people make.
A person’s culture influences his or hers worldview. Factors
such as religion and political ideology are especially
influential.
Culture and worldviews affect perceptions
Many factors shape worldviews
• Religious and spiritual beliefs shape our worldview and
perception of the environment
• Community experiences shape attitudes
• Political ideology: government’s role in protecting the
environment
• Economics
• Vested interest = the strong interest of an individual in
the outcome of a decision
o Results in gain or loss for that individual
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.
Outline the nature, evolution, and expansion
of environmental ethics in Western cultures.
Environmental ethics applies ethical
standards to relationship between people
and aspects of their environments.

Ethics = the study of good and bad, right and
wrong… a prescriptive pursuit: it tells us how
we ought to behave

Relativists = ethics varies with social context

Universalists = right and wrong remains the
same across cultures and situations

Environmental ethics = application of ethical
standards to relationships between human and
nonhuman entities

Hard to resolve: it depends on the person’s
ethical standards and domain of ethical
concern
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.
Outline the nature, evolution, and expansion
of environmental ethics in Western cultures.
Our society’s domain of ethical concern has been expanding,
such that we have granted more and more entities ethical
consideration.
Anthropocentrism values humans above all else, whereas
biocentrism values all life and egocentrism values ecological
systems.
Three ethical perspectives…
Anthropocentrism = only
humans have intrinsic value
Biocentrism = some nonhuman
life has intrinsic value
Ecocentrism = whole ecological
systems have value… a holistic
perspective that preserves
connections
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.
Compare the major approaches in environmental
ethics.
The preservation ethic (preserving natural system intact) and
the conservation ethic (promoting responsible longer use of
resources) have guided branches of the environmental
movement.
• Perservation ethic - unspoiled nature
should be protected for its own intrinsic
value.
o John Muir had an ecocentric
viewpoint… he was a tireless
advocate for wilderness preservation
• Conservation ethic - Use natural
resources wisely for the greatest good for
the most people (the utilitarian standard)
o Gifford Pinchot had an
anthropocentric viewpoint
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.
Compare the major approaches in environmental
ethics.
The land ethic philosophy of Aldo Leopold is viewed as
centrally important to modern environmental ethics.
• Land ethic - Healthy ecological
systems depend on protecting all
parts
– Aldo Leopold believed
the land ethic changes
the role of people from
conquerors of the land to
citizens of it
• The land ethic can help
guide decision making
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.
Compare the major approaches in environmental
ethics.
Environmental justice seeks equal treatment for people of all
races and income levels.
• The poor and minorities are exposed to
more pollution, hazards, and
environmental degradation
North Carolina wanted to put a toxic
waste site in the county with the
highest percentage of African
Americans
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.
Environmental justice and Native Americans
• From 1948 to the 1960s, neither the U.S. government nor
industry provided Navajo miners with information or
protection
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.
Compare the major approaches in environmental
ethics.
Environmental justice is also an international issue between
developed and developing nations.
• Wealthy nations impose pollution on poorer nations
- Hazardous waste is expensive to dispose of
• Companies pay poor nations to take the waste
- It is dumped illegally
- It may be falsely labeled as harmless or beneficial
- Workers are uninformed or unprotected
• The Basel Convention prohibits international export of waste
- But illegal trade and dumping continue
- The United States has not ratified this treaty
© 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.
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