Environmental Ethics

Should we give moral consideration to animals, trees, or rocks? Do we owe moral duties to species, eco-systems—or to the planet? Is it morally permissible to eat meat? Who incurs moral responsibility for anthropogenic climate change? This course introduces students to the study of moral philosophy via an engagement with issues of environmental concern. Beginning with conceptions of nature in the Abrahamic tradition, the course will cover the deep ecology, eco- feminist, and social ecology movements as well as such issues as climate change, biodiversity, land degradation, animal rights, water, waste, and wilderness preservation.The two main goals of the course are to provide students with a more sophisticated conceptual vocabulary to render moral judgement across domains and to engage students’ ethical reasoning and reflection on environmental issues in particular.

Required Text

  • David Clowney and Patricia Mosto, eds. Earthcare: An Anthology in Environmental Ethics, 12th edition (Belmont, CA: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009).

Course Plan

Week I: What is the Environment? What is Moral Philosophy?

Week 2: Abrahamic Traditions

Week 3: Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism

Week 4: Deep Ecology

Week 5: Ecofeminism

Week 6: Social Ecology

Week 7: Climate Change

Week 8: Earth & Air

Week 9: Water

Week 10: Waste

Week 11: Animal Rights

Week 12: Biodiversity & Species

Week 13: Wilderness

Week 14: Population

Week 15: Resistance