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AED 1262


semester 2, 2007/2008


What is ethics?

o Define fundamentally
what is right and what is
wrong, regardless of
cultural differences.
e.g. most cultures have a reverence for
life and hold that all humans have a
right to live. It is considered unethical
to deprive an individual of life.
Every discipline has their own work ethic , such as:

MEDICINE : Do not harm
LAW : Keep orderly procedures
BUSINESS : Keep your promises
MILITARY : Do your duty
INTELLECTUAL : Follow your destiny
SCIENTIST : Find the real facts
ENGINEER : Make it work

(Butler, 1992)
What is Morals?
Morals differ somewhat from ethics because
morals reflect the predominant feelings of a
culture about ethical issues.

e.g. In almost all cultures, it is certainly
unethical to kill someone; however, when a
country declares war, most of its people accept
the necessity of killing the enemy. Therefore,
it is a moral thing to do even though ethics says
that killing is wrong. No nation has ever
declared an immoral war.
What is Environmental Ethics?

Environmental Ethics is a topic of
applied ethics that examines the moral
basis of environmental responsibility.
Also known as environmental
philosophy that considers the ethical
relationship between human beings
and the environment in which they
It exerts influence on a large range of
disciplines including law, sociology,
theology, economics and geography.

It is about how human beings should
relate to their environment, how to use
Earths resources, and how to treat
other species, both plant and animal.
What is Environmental Values
Concerned with the basis and
justification of environmental
Aims to bring together
contributions from philosophy,
law, economics and other
relate to the present and future
environment of humans and
other species
clarify the relationship between
practical policy issues and more
fundamental underlying
principles or assumptions.
Example of Environmental Values
1. Take from the environment only resource needed for
human life.
2. Modify the environment only when the present
environment is not conducive for human
3. Protects the public health preserve the environment
from deterioration.
4. Conserve renewable resources planned and managed
5. Preserve special environment nature reserve e.g.
Kuala Gula, Hutan Belum, Gua Niah, Bukit Cherakah,
Taman Negara, Tasik Bera, etc.
6. Protect special habitats protect special animals,
protect endangered species.
7. Protect the integrity of the global ecosystem without
it people wont survive.
Three primary theories of moral responsibility regarding the environment:

1. Anthropocentric (human-centered)
- a theory of moral responsibility that views the environment as a resource
for humankind.

2. Biocentric (life-centered)
- a theory of moral responsibility that states that all forms of life have an
inherent right to exist. Human have no right to reduce the richness and
diversity except to satisfy vital needs. Living simple in means and co-exist
with the rest of nature.
3. Ecocentrism
- an approach to environmental responsibility that
maintains that the environment deserves direct moral
consideration rather than consideration derived merely
from human interests.
The Goal of Environmental Ethics
Focuses on the moral foundation of
environmental responsibility and how far
this responsibility extends.
Our natural resources are limited.
We are part of the environment.
-every living thing is interrelated
-concept of carrying capacity
-Biogeochemical cycles
We must understand and cooperate
with nature.
Our action must be ecological sound.

Environmental Ethics, then, might include such issues as the following:

Why care about nature for itself when only people

When species or landscapes or wilderness areas are
destroyed, what of value, is lost to mankind?

Will future generations miss what we have taken from
them? (How could they if they never will know what
they have lost?

Do future generations (who, after all, do not exist now)
have a right now to a clean and natural environment
when their time comes?

Can man improve upon nature? How? What
constitute improvement?

Does the Earth exist for the benefit of humanity?

Do humans have any ethical obligations with respect to
the natural world.

Do we have the right to take all the Earths for our own

Do we have a responsibility to be good stewards over

There are many ethical decisions that human beings make
with respect to the environment, for example:

Should we continue to clear cut the forests for the sake of human
Should we continue to make gasoline powered vehicles, depleting
fossil fuels resources while the technology exists to create zero-
emission vehicles?
What environmental obligations do we need to keep for future
Is it right for humans to knowingly cause the extinction of a
species for the (perceived or real) convenience of humanity?
If the earth is meant to be used by humans,
Will these actions be morally
permissible or even required?

Is it morally acceptable for farmers
in non-industrial countries to
practice slash and burn techniques
to clear areas for agriculture?

Consider a mining company which
has performed open pit mining in
some previously unspoiled area.
Does the company have a moral
obligation to restore the landform
and surface ecology?

It is often said to be morally wrong for human beings to
pollute and destroy parts of the natural environment and to
consume a huge proportion of the planets natural

If that is wrong, is it simply because a sustainable
environment is essential to ( present and future) human
Is such behavior also wrong because the natural
environment and/or its various contents have certain values
in their own right so that these values ought to be respected
and protected in any case?
Inculcation of Environmental Ethics
Education formal
and informal
Related agencies
Promoting models of
Everybodys role
The end
Take care of the earth