WVC Philosophy 12

Introduction to Environmental Ethics

Title and Number of Course
Philosophy 12, Introduction to Environmental Ethics, 3 units

Catalog Description
This course is a philosophical survey of the moral issues that arise as a result of human interaction with, and exploitation of, nature. The views of traditional and contemporary Western and Eastern philosophers will be examined, as well as eco-feminist and Native American perspectives. The student will be invited to explore such questions as: What is the relationship of human beings to the rest of nature? What does it mean to live in harmony with nature? Are humans more valuable than animals? Do animals have rights? if so, to what extent? What, if anything, is the value of wilderness and wild animals? To what extent are we morally bound to use technology in ecologically responsible manner? The answers to such questions will be related to specific contemporary issues such as abortion, genetic engineering, famine, animal experimentation, hunting and trapping, nuclear technology, and pollution.

Recommend eligibility for English 1A

No department requirement

Course Objectives

  1. The student should be able to explicate the major problems in the area of environmental ethics.
  2. The student should be able to relate theories for the solution of problems in ethics to contemporary environmental issues.
  3. The student should be able to apply the moral problem-solving techniques proposed by various ethical philosophers to his/her own thinking about environmental issues.

Course Content

I.  WHAT IS ETHICS?		2 weeksConcerned with value (good and bad) and    obligation (right and wrong), as far as these    can be determined by reason aloneDescriptive ethics vs normative ethics vs meta-ethicsMoral value vs non-moral valueRights and dutiesTypes of ethical theories: consequentialist    or teleological (maximize non-moral value);    non-consequentialist or deontologicalII. MAJOR NORMATIVE SYSTEMS IN WESTERNPHILOSOPHY, AND POSSIBLE EXTENSIONS TO ACCOMODATE NATURE AND ANIMALS		4 weeks  AristotleKantMillIII. EASTERN AND WESTERN PHILOSOPHICAL    CONCEPTIONS OF THE RELATIONSHIP OF    HUMANS TO ANIMALS AND    INANIMATE OBJECTS			5 weeksE.g., Aristotle, Descartes, Leibniz, Kant,    the concept of ahimsa  in Hinduism, Buddhism,    JainismThe "great chain of being"The concept of harmony with nature -    Native American perspectivesThe value of wilderness and wild animalsEco-feminism and deep ecologyIV. HUMANS AND ANIMALS		3 weeksThe concept of "human nature"The challenge of mechanism and determinism:    what's so special about being a person?Teleological vs mechanistic metaphysicsVitalism and the mind-body problem:    what's so special about living things?Behaviorism and animal subjectivityApplications of analysis to specific issues    such as hunting and trapping    and animal experimentation.V. TECHNOLOGY AND ETHICS		3 weeksTo what extent are we morally bound to    use technology in an ecologically responsible manner?Eugenics: why or why not?Application of the analysis to specific issues    such as reproductive technologies (embryonic    sex selection, surrogacy, fetal tissue research,    etc.), and nuclear technology.

General Requirements
Completion of required reading and final exam. Other requirements are determined by instructor. These may include completion of one or more papers, oral reports, other written exams, journal assignments, participation in class discussion, etc.

In accordance with Title V regulations, there must be at least one substantial (greater than one paragraph) writing assignment. Generally evaluation is based primarily on written papers and essay examinations.

Suggested Instructional Methods and Materials
Primarily lecture and discussion. These can be supplemented by films, videos, guest speakers, class debates, etc., as deemed appropriate and desirable by the individual instructor. Readings should include primary source material as much as possible. |||


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