Question

Peter Singer argues that ethics should be extended to include animals. Paul W. Taylor argues that ethics should include all living organisims. Aldo Leopold argues that ethics must be extended to include the land. Which of them has the best position? (Defend your answer with convincing arguments, and show that you understand each of their positions.)

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Environmental ethics, perhaps like all of ethics and possibly even all of conceptual work in general, is, I think, all about where ‘the lines’ are to be drawn. What do I mean? Ultimately, the topics and problems of environmental ethics could be seen to boil down to the question of what parts of the environment are to be privileged and valued over others and to what extent – and this necessarily involves delineation of the extent to which the environment is valued and respected (or not), and in what ways, by humans and our interests. Various methods are used to motivate where the lines are drawn – such as by whether and how much intrinsic, inherent value some part of nature might have, however that value is defined; another is in terms of the instrumental value aspects of nature are taken to have, such as in terms of the utility gained or lost based on the use or enjoyment of the aspect of nature in question. This paper will examine the ways three views—by Singer, Taylor, and Leopold—draw the pivotal lines and construct the critical cutoffs in the question of the moral status of the nonhuman parts of nature. And...

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