terms for Environmental ehtics

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Glossary of Terms in Environmental Ethics
Absolutism. The belief that there is one and only one truth; those who espouse
absolutism usually also believe that they know what this absolute truth is. In ethics,
absolutism is usually contrasted to relativism.
Aesthetic Value: The value attributed to works of art. In environmental ethics, the
attribution to nature of aesthetic value, commonly as an instance of intrinsic value.
Agnosticism. The conviction that one simply does not know whether God exists or
not; it is often accompanied with a further conviction that one need not care whether
God exists or not.
Altruism. A selfless concern for other people purely for their own sake. Altruism is
usually contrasted with selfishness or egoism in ethics.
Anthropocentrism. The view that humans are the most important beings on Earth.
Typical of Western Judeo-Christian culture.
Anthropocentrism: "Human-centered" ethic or world view where human wellbeing or interests are considered to be all that matters, everything else being
valued only as a means. Example: Baxter.
Areté. The Greek word for "excellence" or "virtue." For the Greeks, this was not
limited to human beings. A guitar, for example, has its areté in producing harmonious
music, just as a hammer has its excellence or virtue in pounding nails into wood well.
So, too, the virtue of an Olympic swimmer is in swimming well, and the virtue of a
national leader lies in motivating people to work for the common good.
Atheism. The belief that God does not exist. In the last two centuries, some of the
most influential atheistic philosophers have been Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche,
Bertrand Russell, and Jean-Paul Sartre. Compare with Agnosticism.
Atomism: In ethics, means the same as individualism. The term has quite
different meanings in other areas of philosophy.
Autonomy. The ability to freely determine one’s own course in life. Etymologically,
it goes back to the Greek words for "self" and "law." This term is most strongly
associated with Immanuel Kant, for whom it meant the ability to give the moral law to
oneself.
Biocentrism: "Life-centred" where the well-being of each living thing is
considered to be all that matters, everything else being valued only as a means
to that end. Example: Taylor. The term is also used for ethics that value life
itself, or biosphere, where the interests of individuals are valued largely or
solely for the sake of the biosphere. Example: Callicott. Thus, biocentrism may
be individualistic or holistic.
Biodiversity. The natural variety of life in all its forms, levels and combinations,
together with the environmental conditions necessary for survival. Biodiversity
includes: regional diversity, ecosystem diversity, species diversity and genetic
diversity.
Bioprospecting. The search for potentially valuable chemical compounds within
biota.
Bioregion. A natural region defined by its ecological coherence. Each bioregion has
a distinct geological formations, climatic conditions and ecology.
Bioregionalism. The belief that human communities should be fully integrated with
the particular bioregion they occupy. A good example is the Ozark Area Community
Congress (OACC). The OACC is founded on the principle of 'political economy',
which means that political decisions must be bioregionally orientated, and so operate
according to ecological laws.
Callicott: J Baird Callicott taught the first environmental ethics course in the
world (in 1972) and his major contribution to environmental ethics is in his
extensive writings on Leopold. He is undoubtedly the #1 figure in turning
environmental ethics into an academic discipline within philosophy. Since the
text was written, he has moved to a position at the University of North Texas,
in the Center for Environmental Philosophy (see Useful Sites)
Categorical Imperative. An unconditional command. For Immanuel Kant, all of
morality depended on a single categorical imperative. One version of that imperative
was, "Always act in such a way that the maxim of your action can be willed as a
universal law."
Commercially important species. A species of animal or plant having desirable
human uses (food, fuel, shelter, clothing, medicine etc) present in sufficient numbers
to make commercial collection or harvesting economically viable.
Compatibilism. The belief that both determinism and freedom of the will are true.
Connections (Indigenous peoples' perspective). A cultural element that describes
the essential role played by a landscape in the life, culture and well-being of
indigenous individuals and societies. "Traditional connections" refers to the elemental
role played by a particular geographic area in the self image, heritage and economic
well-being of an individual or a society, that has developed over many generations.
Consequentialism. Any position in ethics which claims that the rightness or
wrongness of actions depends on their consequences. See also, utilitarianism.
Consequentialism: A consequentialist ethic requires that we do whatever
actions will bring about the best result, eg utilitarianism.
Conservation: often used in connection with a concern for the environment
("the conservation movement"). Internationally, associated with "wise use"
or sustainability, and contrasted with preservation. Leopold was originally a
conservationist in this sense. In the NZ Conservation Act 1986, it is defined in
terms of preservation of intrinsic values. Do not use the term "conservation"
without explaining what you mean by it. See also Muir and Pinchot.
Cultural Landscape. Those parts of the earth's surface, including waterways, which
have been significantly modified by human activity.
Deductive. A deductive argument is an argument whose conclusion follows
necessarily from its premises. This contrasts to various kinds of inductive arguments,
which offer only a degree of probability to support their conclusion. Compare
inductive, intuitionism.
Deep Ecology: a term coined by Norwegian philosopher Aarne Naess who at
88 is the world’s oldest environmental philosopher (he also calls it
"ecosophy"). Deep ecologists ask us to look into deeply into our relationship
with nature; to develop self-realization through a feeling of oneness with
nature; to reject materialism; and to go beyond the concerns of "shallow" or
"reformist" anthropocentric concerns about issues such as pollution. There is no
satisfactory definition of "deep ecology"; Devall and Sessions (text 144-147)
present the most complete account.
Deontological Ethics: Focus on the inherent rightness and wrongness of acts,
in contrast to consequentialist theories.
Deontology. Any position in ethics which claims that the rightness or wrongness of
actions depends on whether they correspond to our duty or not. The word derives
from the Greek word for duty, deon.
Divine Command Theory. Any position in ethics which claims that the rightness or
wrongness of actions depends on whether they correspond to God’s commands or not.
See also natural law theory.
Double Effect, Doctrine of. The doctrine or principle of assessing the permissibility
of an act. It distinguishes between what is foreseen as an effect of an action and what
is intended as the effect of an action. Under this doctrine for an act to be permissible,
the act must itself be morally good. The agent foreseeing the bad effect must not
intend it and should seek alternative courses of action. The good effect should not be
brought about by means of the bad effect, and the goodness of the intended act must
outweigh the bad effects foreseen.
Dualism. Philosophical belief that reality is essentially divided into two distinct kinds
of stuff. Typically mind and body or the related pair, spirit and matter. One concept in
each pair is often deemed superior to the other.
Dualism: Type of worldview which sees the world as contrasting sets of pairs,
eg mind-body, male-female, human-nature. Holistic and ecofeminist positions
commonly reject dualisms, especially where they are seen as hierarchical.
Eastern: Critics of the "Western" ethic or worldview often contrast it with the
"Eastern" view but there is no one such view. See Guha.
Ecocentrism. The view advocated by Aldo Leopold in his highly influential essay "The Land
Ethic" (1949), that nature itself, not only humans or sentient creatures, has inherent moral
value.. See www.utm.edu/research/iep/e/environm.htm
Ecofeminism: Type of ethic or worldview where the exploitation of nature is seen as part of a
pattern of dominance including racism, sexism. Ecofeminists typically reject modernism largely
because they see it as characterized by dualism and hierarchy), extensionism,
liberalism, andindividualism. Ecofeminism is an ecocentric approach that understands
environmental degradation and the oppression of women and other groups as the result of the
"logic of dominance". Only by attacking the logic of dominance will we be able to liberate the
environment, women, oppressed minorities, etc Examples: Cuomo, Karen Warren.
Ecologically sustainable use. (a) use of an organism, ecosystem or other renewable
resource at a rate within its capacity for renewal; or (b) use of living things or areas
within their capacity to sustain natural processes while maintaining the life support
systems of nature, and ensuring that the benefits of the use to present generations do
not diminish the potential to meet the needs and aspirations of future generations.
Ecology. Originally the scientific study of the relationship between living organisms
and their environment. The term now has a wider range of meanings. Often used to
describe the holistic interconnectedness of all existence on Earth.
Ecosystem. A community of plants, animals and other organisms together with the
non-living components of their environment.
Egalitarianism: Type of ethic that emphasizes equality. Example: Taylor.
Embodied Knowledge. Knowledge held within the tissue of the body. It is a
somatic, physical knowing which comes from direct experience. Familiar to sports
people and performers. Adrian Harris claims that such knowledge is also found in
spiritual contexts and can bring an experience of a wholeness and greater ecological
awareness. (Harris treats the term 'Somatic Knowing' as equivalent).
Emotivism. A philosophical theory which holds that moral judgments are simply
expressions of positive or negative feelings.
Endangered Species. A species whose population (in a region or globally) has
decreased, through habitat loss, predation, disease, environmental change or
competition from other species, to the point where its continued survival is in doubt.
Enlightenment, Continental. Also known as 'The Age Of Reason'. An intellectual
movement of the 17th and 18th Centuries. A humanist movement which emphasized
the power of reason above all else. Tended to emphasize empirical science as source
of truth. Promoted notion of human 'progress'.
Environmental Justice. EPA defines Environmental Justice (EJ) as the "fair
treatment for people of all races, cultures, and incomes, regarding the development of
environmental laws, regulations, and policies." Fair treatment means that no group of
people, including a racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic group, should bear a
disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from
industrial, municipal, and commercial operations or the execution of federal, state,
local, and tribal programs and policies.
Environmental Racism. A violation of the principles of environmental justice
wherein communities of color bear a disproportionate burden of toxic dumping wile
being systematically excluded from discussions and decision-making concerning
matters of environmental policy. throughout the U.S., and the rest of the world,
communities of color are adversely affected by industrial and agricultural toxins, dirty
water and dirty air, and the placement of incinerators, waste dumping facilities, and
waste storage facilities. Environmental racism is a form of institutional racism.
Essentialism. The belief that people and/or phenomenon have properties that are
essential to what they are. In a feminist context, the belief in a unique and unchanging
feminine essence existing above and beyond cultural conditioning.
Ethical Egoism. A moral theory that, in its most common version (universal ethical
egoism) states that each person ought to act in his or her own Self-interest. Also see
Psychological Egoism.
Ethics. The explicit, philosophical reflection on moral beliefs and practices. The
difference between ethics and morality is similar to the difference between
musicology and music. Ethics is a conscious stepping back and reflecting on morality,
just as musicology is a conscious reflection on music.
Eudaimonia. The is the word that Aristotle uses for "happiness" or "flourishing." It
comes from the Greek "eu," which means "happy" or "well" or "harmonious," and
"daimon," which refers to the individual’s spirit.
Exclusionist: Type of ethic or worldview where humans are seen as not being
part of nature. Example: Elliot. Anthropocentrists are always exclusionists: see
Baxter.
Extensionism: Extensionist ethics assumes a conventional ethic and argues
that it should be applied to a group that has traditionally been excluded from
moral consideration, eg animals. Examples: Regan, Singer. Critics argue for a
more radical approach. Examples: Cuomo, Callicott.
Extrinsic Value: A value that is attributed to something because of its relation
to something else that is considered to have intrinsic value.
Gender. A person’s gender refers to that individual’s affiliation with either male or
female social roles. Gender differs from sex in the same way that ethnicity differs
from race: gender is a sociological concept, while sex is a biological one.
Grey culture. Also called 'terminal grey culture'. Term used by Colin Johnson in his
'Green Dictionary' to describe the modern West. A culture based on the ethos of
growth, environmental destruction and increasing consumerism. 'Derived from the
reductionist philosophical tradition and the homocentic view of the planet as being at
man's disposal'. ('Green Dictionary', page 131.)
Hedon. This is a term that utilitarians use to designate a unit of pleasure. Its opposite
is a dolor, which is a unit of pain or displeasure. The term "hedon" comes from the
Greek word for pleasure.
Heteronomy. For Kant, heteronomy is the opposite of autonomy. Whereas an
autonomous person is one whose will is self-determined, a heteronomous person is
one whose will is determined by something outside of the person, such as
overwhelming emotions. Etymologically, heteronomy goes back to the Greek words
for "other" and "law."
Hierarchy: a hierarchy is a set of things, arranged in order of power, such as
the military chain of command. Normative hierarchical views of nature (or
society) describe nature (or society) in terms of allegedly superior and inferior
groups.
Holism: Type of ethic or worldview in which it is the whole, not the
individuals that make it up, that is primarily studied or valued.
Example: Leopold.
Human Chauvinism: A term invented by Richard Sylvan (the philosopher
formerly known as Richard Routley) on an analogy with male chauvinism.
Largely replaced by speciesism. Sylvan believes that the "Western" worldview
and ethic is human chauvinistic.
Hypothetical Imperative. A conditional command, such as, "If you want to lose
weight, stop eating cookies." Some philosophers have claimed that morality is only a
system of hypothetical imperatives, while others—such as Kant—have maintained
that morality is a matter of categorical imperatives. Also see categorical imperative.
Impartiality. In ethics, an impartial standpoint is one which treats everyone as equal.
For many philosophers, impartiality is an essential component of the moral point of
view.
Imperative. A command. Philosophers often distinguish between hypothetical
imperatives and categorical imperatives; see the entries under each of these topics.
Inclination. This is the word that Kant used to refer to our sensuous feelings,
emotions, and desires. Kant contrasts inclination with reason. Whereas inclination was
seen as physical, causally-determined, and irrational, reason was portrayed as nonphysical, free, and obviously rational.
Inclusionist: Type of ethic or worldview where humans are seen as part
of nature. Example: Leopold.
Individualism: Type of ethic or worldview where only individuals are studies
and valued, the whole being considered to be no more than the aggregate of the
parts. From an ecological point of view, individualist positions are seen
as reductionist. Examples: Regan, Singer.
Inherent Value, Inherent Worth: Mostly mean the same as intrinsic
value. Examples: Regan, Taylor
Instrumental Value: A value that is attributed to something as a means to
something that is considered to have intrinsic value. A kind of extrinsic value.
Integrationist. Any position which attempts to reconcile apparently conflicting
tendencies or values into a single framework. Integrationist positions are contrasted
with separatist positions, which advocate keeping groups (usually defined by race,
ethnicity, or gender) separate from one another.
Intrinsic Value, Intrinsic Worth: A value that is attributed to something as an
end and not just as a means; is believed to have value in and for itself, for its
own sake. Intrinsic value is mentioned in the NZ Conservation Act 1986, but
not defined. In the Resource Management Act 1991, intrinsic values are
defined in relation to ecosystems only.
Instrumental Value: something that has value only because it helps achieve something else,
or that you value only for its use; you may value a desk instrumentally, because it helps you
achieve what you want to.
Jud(a)eo-Christian: General term for the ethic and worldview that underpins
"Western" society, based on early Christian texts (the "New Testament") and
Jewish texts selected by early Christian authorities (the "Old Testament") for
inclusion in the Christian sacred writings (the "Bible"). "Judeo" is the US
spelling, "Judaeo" the British and NZ.
Leopold: Aldo Leopold (1887-1947) was a forester, wildlife manager and,
later, academic. He is often seen as the Father of Environmental Ethics and his
words as Holy Writ (see Callicott, text, 124). Despite Callicott’s claims,
Leopold was not, in my opinion, a philosopher - but he was a "founding father"
of environmental ethics.
Liberalism: General term for ethical and political thought emphasizing
individual rights and welfare, freedom, democracy; thus, a form
of Individualism. Heroes (or villains, depending on your point of view) of
liberalism include Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) and John Stuart Mill (18061873). Extensionists are generally liberals.
Management agency. Federal, state, territory, local government or statutory
authorities with responsibility for management of protected or environmentally
sensitive areas. They have the power to authorize access to areas or permit certain
activities in these areas.
Maxim. According to Kant, a maxim is the subjective rule that an individual uses in
making a decision.
Means. Philosophers often contrast means and ends. The ends we seek are the goals
we try to achieve, while the means are the actions or things which we use in order to
accomplish those ends. A hammer provides the means for pounding a nail in a piece
of wood. Some philosophers, most notably Immanuel Kant, have argued that we
should never treat human beings merely as means to an end.
Modernism: General term for the dominant "Western" worldview of the last 4
centuries or so, in which objective, value-free scientific method and rationality
are seen as the paradigms of knowledge. Heroes (or villains, depending on your
point of view) of modernism include Francis Bacon (1561-1626) and René
Descartes (1596-1650). See Postmodernism.
Moral Isolationism. The view that we ought not to be morally concerned with, or
involved with, people outside of our own immediate group. Moral isolationism is
often a consequences of some versions of moral relativism.
Moral Luck. The phenomenon that the moral goodness or badness of some of our
actions depends simply on chance. For example, the drunk driver may safely reach
home without injuring anyone at all, or might accidentally kill several children that
run out into the street while the drunken person is driving home. How bad the action
of driving while drunk is in that case depends in part on luck.
Muir, John: (1838-1914). Pioneer American environmentalist, often seen as a
proto-deep ecologist. Muir advocated strict preservation and founded the Sierra
Club, the first and the most influential wilderness preservation organization. He
was instrumental in setting up the National Parks movement via his influence
on the first President Roosevelt. His heritage is global, because NP systems
were set up in many countries (including NZ) in imitation of the American
model. Muir and Pinchot fought many battles over American environmental
policy, which Pinchot eventually won.
Natural Law. In ethics, believers in natural law hold (a) that there is a natural order to
the human world, (b) that this natural order is good, and (c) that people therefore
ought not to violate that order.
Natural, Nature: Look in any decent dictionary and you will find at least 20
senses of these terms. Therefore, avoid using them unless you first explain the
sense in which you are using them.
Naturalism. In ethics, naturalism is the theory that moral values can be derived from
facts about the world and human nature. The naturalist holds that "is" can imply
"ought."
Naturalistic Fallacy. According to G. E. Moore, any argument which attempts to
define the good in any terms whatsoever, including naturalistic terms; for Moore,
Good is simple and indefinable. Some philosophers, most notably defenders of
naturalism, have argued that Moore and others are wrong and that such arguments are
not necessarily fallacious.
Nature. A complex concept with several highly contested meanings. Murray
Bookchin points out that because many aboriginal peoples lives are so integrated with
it, words that mean what we call 'Nature', are not easy to find, if they exist at all, in
their languages.
Nihilism. The belief that there is no value or truth. Literally, a belief in nothing
(nihil). Most philosophical discussions of nihilism arise out of a consideration of
Fredrich Nietzsche’s remarks on nihilism, especially in The Will to Power.
Normative: You are making a normative judgment if you say that a particular
rule, standard or "norm" should be generally adopted.
Noumenal. A Kantian term that refers to the unknowable world as it is in itself.
According to Kant, we can only know the world as it appears to us, as a phenomenon.
We can never know it as it is in itself, as a noumenon. The adjectival forms of these
two words are "phenomenal" and "noumenal," respectively.
Patriarchy: key term in feminist theory, for the modes of thought and
behaviour that lead to the oppression and domination of woman and, according
to ecofeminists, of nature.
Phronesis. According to Aristotle, Phronesis is practical wisdom, the ability to make
the right decision in difficult circumstances.
Pinchot, Gifford: (1865-1946). Pinchot (pronounced PinSHOW) pioneered the
American conservation movement, in the sense of "wise use" of forests and
other natural resources for the material benefit of presnt generations, though
with an eye to the future. He founded both the American Forest Service and the
Yale Forestry School. He strongly opposed "lock up" preservation policies and
his views largely prevailed over those of Muir. Forestry policies in many
countries, including NZ, were greatly influenced by Pinchot’s views.
Pluralism. The belief that there are multiple perspectives on an issue, each of which
contains part of the truth but none of which contain the whole truth. In ethics, moral
pluralism is the belief that different moral theories each capture part of truth of the
moral life, but none of those theories has the entire answer.
Postmodernism: General term for the rejection of modernism. Postmodernists
deny the possibility of objective knowledge of the world, and reject all claims
of absolute or universal values. Heroes (or villains, depending on your point of
view) of postmodernism include Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) and Jacques
Derrida (1930 - ).
Precautionary Principle. A principle dictating that, where there is threat of serious
or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be
used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation. In the
application of the Precautionary Principle, public and private decisions should be
guided by careful evaluation to avoid, wherever practicable, serious or irreversible
damage to the environment; and an assessment of the risk-weighted consequences of
various options.
Prescriptive: for our purposes, same as normative.
Preservation: usually, the protection of nature and artifacts from all but nondestructive uses. See conservation.
Prima Facie. In the original Latin, this phrase means "at first glance." In ethics, it
usually occurs in discussions of duties. A prima facie duty is one which appears
binding but which may, upon closer inspection, turn out to be overridden by other,
stronger duties.
Prima Facie: A prima facie obligations or duty is one that is normally
required, but that may be overridden by a more important duty. Example: there
is a prima facie duty to keep to the speed limit, but this may be overridden by
the duty to save life, as in an emergency.
Process. A continuous change made up of a connected and related series of events; a
process has a beginning in time and a completion, when the process stops. or A
sequence of connected and related events. When natural scientists say they are
seeking to "understand" or to "explain" observations, they usually mean to uncover
the processes - sequences of interacting events - that led to the observation. The
process of discovery can be direct or indirect, involving hypothetico-deductive testing
(see section on types of research). Examples of processes include the production of
rocks from molten material, the weathering of rocks by action of wind and water, or
the interacting events that determine the fluctuations in an animal population - birth,
death from a range of possible causes, number of young produced before death, food
supply (which means interaction with the dynamics of another population of a
different species), effects of fluctuations in physical conditions, etc. Natural scientists
refer to all these interconnected, interacting events as processes.
Progress. An linear movement forward. To advance or develop. A key drive behind
Western industrial culture. In the Modern world more people have greater material
wealth but more people starve and suffer from malnutrition than ever before. Many
philosophers claim that these two facts are directly related, and the Western notion of
'progress' is morally flawed.
Protected area. Part of the planet used for the prime purpose of genetic, species and
land/seascape conservation and management. The protected area may include cultural
components, appropriate sustainable use and benefit sharing, and will be managed by
the owners through the most effective means to achieve the conservation objectives.
Or an area of land and/or sea especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance
of biological diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources, and managed
through legal or other effective means.
Psychologism Egoism. The doctrine that all human motivation is ultimately selfish or
egoistic.
Ratiogenic Damage. 'Reason generated' harm or damage; Giving a greater value
than is warranted to or privileging a human activity, such as scientific research, on the
grounds that any damage done by the activity is warranted or legitimated by the
knowledge gained. Justifying accepting a harm to individuals, species and systems
because the benefits provided by the resulting knowledge will outweigh the harm the
activity might inflict.
Reductionism: A view is said to be reductionist (usually this is meant as a
criticism) if it attempts to explain, redescribe, or "reduce" something as "really"
something else. Almost all intellectual positions have been criticized by their
opponents as reductionist, eg modern science, market economics, utilitarianism,
Marxism, Freudian theory, most versions of feminism.
Relativism. In ethics, there are two main type of relativism. Descriptive ethical
relativism simply claims as a matter of fact that different people have different moral
beliefs, but it takes no stand on whether those beliefs are valid or not. Normative
ethical relativism claims that each culture’s (or group’s) beliefs are right within that
culture, and that it is impossible to validly judge another culture’s values from the
outside.
Rights. Rights are entitlements to do something without interference from other
people (negative rights) or entitlements that obligate others to do something positive
to assist you (positive rights). Some rights (natural rights, human rights) belong to
everyone by nature or simply by virtue of being human; some rights (legal rights)
belong to people by virtue of their membership in a particular political state; other
rights (moral rights) are based in acceptance of a particular moral theory.
Satisficing. A term utilitarians borrowed from economics to indicate how much utility
we should try to create. Whereas maximizing utilitarians claim that we should strive
to maximize utility, satisficing utilitarians claim that we need only try to produce
enough utility to satisfy everyone. It’s analogous to the difference between taking a
course with the goal of getting an "A" and taking it pass-fail.
Sentience: Ability to have sensations, specifically to feel pleasure or pain. A
key term in Singer.
Skepticism. There are two senses of this term. In ancient Greece, the skeptics were
inquirers who were dedicated to the investigation of concrete experience and wary of
theories that might cloud or confuse that experience. In modern times, skeptics have
been wary of the trustworthiness of sense experience. Thus classical skepticism was
skeptical primarily about theories, while modern skepticism is skeptical primarily
about experience.
Somatic Knowing: See Embodied Knowledge.
Speciesism. The notion that human animals are superior to other animals. The term
was invented by Richard Ryder and popularized by Peter Singer, on an analogy with
racism and sexism. Speciesists value only the interests and well-being of their own
species: other species exist only to further the interest of the speciesist. Singer
believes that the "Western" ethic and worldview are speciesist.
Stakeholder. Any person (or group of persons), institution, organization, agency,
department, authority, club, association or the like with an interest in, association with
or connection to an area.
Subjectivism. An extreme version of relativism, which maintains that each person’s
beliefs are relative to that person alone and cannot be judged from the outside by any
other person.
Supererogatory. Literally, "above the call of duty." A supererogatory act is one that
is morally good and that goes beyond what is required by duty. Some ethical theories,
such as certain versions of utilitarianism, that demand that we always do the act that
yields the most good have no room for supererogatory acts.
Sustainability, Sustainable Management, Sustainable Development,
Sustainable Use: Terms associated with conservation, emphasizing the needs
of future generations. "Sustainable development" (see Brundtland report) is the
most common internationally. The favoured NZ term is "sustainable
management": see Resource Management Act. Do not use any of these terms
without explaining them.
Third World: obsolescent 1960s term, English translation of the French
"troisieme monde". The "first world" was the market economies ("Capitalist");
the "second world" was the Soviet bloc, China and North Korea ("Centrally
planned" or "Socialist"). The third world included every other country. Today,
it is more common (outside the US) to refer to the rich countries as "the North"
(including Australasia!) and the poorer countries as "the South". Given the
success of economies such as Singapore and Taiwan, the tripartite distinction is
no longer meaningful. Nonetheless, there are still rich and poor countries.
Traditional Owners. Those indigenous people who have the authority to speak for
the land/sea in question. They have a continuing spiritual and cultural connection with
that land/sea that goes back to before white settlement. They are the custodians for the
customary law of the land/sea area in question. Under non-indigenous law they are
deferred to as the potential native title holders for that land or sea.
Tragedy of the Commons. Thought experiment in which demonstrates that any
ethics is mistaken if it allows a growing population to steadily increase its exploitation
of the ecosystem which supports it.
An Abstract of "A General Statement of Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons"
Transcendental Argument. A type of argument, deriving from Kant, which seeks to
establish the necessary conditions of the possibility of something’s being the case. For
example, we have to believe that we are free when we perform an action; thus belief
in freedom is a necessary condition of the possibility of action.
Universalizability. Immanuel Kant used this term when discussing the maxims, or
subjective rules, that guide our actions. A maxim is universalizable if it can
consistently be willed as a law that everyone ought to obey. The only maxims which
are morally good are those which can be universalized. The test of universalizability
ensures that everyone has the same moral obligations in morally similar situations.
Utilitarianism. A moral theory that says that what is moral right is whatever produces
the greatest overall amount of pleasure (hedonistic utilitarianism) or happiness
(eudaimonistic utilitarianism). Some utilitarians (act utilitarians) claim that we should
weigh the consequences of each individual action, while others (rule utilitarians)
maintain that we should look at the consequences of adopting particular rules of
conduct. Positive utilitarianism attempts to maximize the amount of happiness,
pleasure, preferences, etc, as in the maxim, 'The greatest good for the greatest
number.' Negative utilitarianism is the attempt to minimize the amount of misery. An
action is right if and only if it produces at least as much good for all affected by the
action as any alternative action the agent could do instead. Utilitarianism is
a consequentialist ethic. Example: Singer.
Virtue Ethics: focuses on the development of a virtuous character. See
Pojman, text p.7.
Western: I have put this in quotes in this glossary because it is a composite
term for a worldview that is characterized by modernism and the JudeoChristian ethic. There is of course no one "Western" worldview or ethic;
perhaps Richard Sylvan is correct to refer to "the Western super ethic" (and see
White). See Eastern
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