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Environmental Ethics

Theory in Practice

Ronald Sandler

Publication Date - 01 June 2017

ISBN: 9780199340729

496 pages
6-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

A true introduction to environmental ethics that links theory to practice, policy, and our daily lives


An accessible yet rigorous introduction to the field, Environmental Ethics: Theory in Practice helps students develop the analytical skills to effectively identify and evaluate the social and ethical dimensions of environmental issues. Covering a wide variety of theories and critical perspectives, author Ronald Sandler considers their strengths and weaknesses, emphasizes their practical importance, and grounds the discussions in a multitude of both classic and contemporary cases and examples.


  • Discusses a wide range of theories of environmental ethics, representing their strengths and weaknesses as charitably as possible without advocating for any particular theory, thereby encouraging students to think critically about which views are well justified and which are not
  • Incorporates both classic and cutting-edge cases and examples; iconic cases include the spotted owl, Bhopal chemical leak, and Hetch Hetchy controversies, while contemporary cases include lead contamination of Flint, Michigan's water supply, and innovations in conservation genetics, including conservation cloning, deextinction, and gene drives
  • Covers food ethics--addressing such topics as genetic engineering, food systems, food waste, and eating animals--and technology ethics, reflecting on technological power and the role of technology in creating and responding to environmental issues
  • Emphasizes the social justice dimensions of environmental problems with chapters on environmental justice, food security, ecofeminism, and more
  • Includes text boxes that provide extended discussions of cases; thought experiments; additional coverage of theoretical issues discussed in the main text; and exercises that ask students to apply theories or reflect on how theoretical issues intersect with practical problems
  • Provides numerous pedagogical aids including review questions, discussion questions, key terms and additional reading lists at the end of each chapter, extensive internal cross-referencing, a glossary of key terms and concepts, and more than thirty images, illustrations, tables, and graphs

About the Author(s)

Ronald Sandler is Professor of Philosophy, Chair of the Philosophy and Religion Department, and Director of the Ethics Institute at Northeastern University. He is the author of Food Ethics: The Basics (2014), The Ethics of Species (2012), and Character and Environment (2007); the editor of Ethics and Emerging Technologies (2013); and the coeditor of Environmental Justice and Environmentalism (2007) and Environmental Virtue Ethics (2005).


"Environmental Ethics is a really splendid introduction. It is clear and accessible, yet rigorous and engaging. Sandler's text provides excellent overviews, telling examples, and stimulating opinions. It is a gift to students, instructors, and to the field at large."--Steve Gardiner, University of Washington

"Environmental Ethics combines careful theoretical explanation of concepts like environmental justice and rights with lively and illuminating practical case studies. Sandler discusses pressing environmental issues, from climate change to animal agriculture, with his hallmark clarity, theoretical depth, knowledge of the field, and approachable style. This book is an invaluable introduction to environmental ethics."--Clare Palmer, Texas A&M University

"Ron Sandler is one of the most important voices in environmental philosophy today. His work always balances stunning originality with amazing analytic clarity. While serving the needs of an introductory textbook, this volume is his most thorough and comprehensive effort to date."--Paul Thompson, Michigan State University

Table of Contents

    List of Boxes
    List of Tables, Figures, and Images
    List of Abbreviations
    Chapter 1. What Is Environmental Ethics?
    1.1 What Are Environmental Issues?
    1.2 Why Environmental Ethics?
    1.3 Three Bases for Environmental Ethics
    1.4 The Radicalness of Environmental Ethics
    1.5 Summary, Key Terms, Questions, and Further Reading
    Chapter 2. Methods of Environmental Ethics
    2.1 Description, Explanation, Predication, and Prescription
    2.2 Environmental Ethics and Environmental Science
    2.3 Justification in Ethics: The Philosophical Method and Evaluating Arguments
    2.4 Skepticism about Ethics
    2.5 God and Ethics
    2.6 Summary, Key Terms, Questions, and Further Reading
    Chapter Three. The Normativity of Nature
    3.1 What Is Nature?
    3.2 Is Nature Normative?
    3.2.1 Is it Wrong to Interfere with Nature?
    3.2.2 Should We Follow Nature?
    3.2.3 Is a Behavior Wrong if It Is Unnatural?
    3.3 Evolution and Prescription
    3.4 Summary, Key Terms, Questions, and Further Reading
    Chapter Four. Natural Value
    4.1 Instrumental Value
    4.2 Final Value (or Intrinsic Value)
    4.3 Economic Valuation and Environmental Values
    4.4 Is Naturalness Valuable?
    4.5 Summary, Key Terms, Questions, and Further Reading
    Chapter Five. Anthropocentrism, Ratiocentrism, and Indirect Duties
    5.1 Moral Status Terminology
    5.2 Arguments for Anthropocentrism
    5.3 Ratiocentrism
    5.4 Actual Preference Anthropocentrism
    5.5 Technological Optimism
    5.6 Indirect Duties Views
    5.7 Summary, Key Terms, Questions, and Further Reading
    Chapter Six. Enlightened Anthropocentrism: Efficiency, Sustainability, and Future Generations
    6.1 The Elements of Unwise Resource Use
    6.1.1 Inefficient Use
    6.1.2 Underutilization
    6.1.3 Short-Term Use
    6.1.4 Exclusive Use
    6.1.5 Narrow Use
    6.2 Ideal Preference Anthropocentrism
    6.3 The Problem of Future Generations
    6.4 Summary, Key Terms, Questions, and Further Reading
    Chapter Seven. Nonanthropocentric Individualism: The Moral Considerability of Plants and Animals
    7.1 Arguments for Sentientism
    7.2 Responses to the Arguments for Sentientism
    7.3 Do Plants Have Interests?
    7.4 Should We Care about the Interests of Plants?
    7.5 Pluralism
    7.6 Summary, Key Terms, Questions, and Further Reading
    Chapter Eight. Consequentialist Environmental Ethics: Animal Welfare and Utilitarianism
    8.1 Distinguishing Normative Theories
    8.2 Utilitarianism
    8.3 Identifying and Weighing Interests
    8.4 Secondary Principles and Indirect Consequentialism
    8.5 Concerns about Utilitarian Environmental Ethics
    8.6 Summary, Key Terms, Questions, and Further Reading
    Chapter Nine. Deontological Environmental Ethics: Respect for Nature, Animal Rights, and Environmental Rights
    9.1 The Motivations for Deontology
    9.2 Respect for Nature
    9.3 Animal Rights
    9.4 Human Rights and the Environment
    9.5 Concerns about Deontological Environmental Ethics
    9.6 Summary, Key Terms, Questions, and Further Reading
    Chapter Ten. Character Ethics: Virtue, Vice, and the Environment
    10.1 What Are Environmental Virtues and Vices?
    10.2 Character and Environmental Ethics
    10.3 Environmental Virtue Ethics
    10.4 Concerns Regarding Environmental Virtue Ethics
    10.5 Evaluating Ethical Theories
    10.6 Summary, Key Terms, Questions, and Further Reading
    Chapter Eleven. Ecocentrism
    11.1 The Argument for the Land Ethic
    11.2 Implications of the Land Ethic
    11.3 Moral Development and Outdoor Recreation
    11.4 Concerns Regarding Ecocentrism
    11.4.1 Problematic Implications: Ecofascism and Misanthropy
    11.4.2 Conceptual Clarity: Defining Ecosystems and Ecological Integrity
    11.4.3 Misapplication of Moral Concepts
    11.5 Summary, Key Terms, Questions, and Further Reading
    Chapter Twelve. Deep Ecology
    12.1 Principles of Deep Ecology
    12.2 Metaphysical Holism and Self-Realization
    12.3 The "Deep" in Deep Ecology
    12.4 Concerns Regarding Deep Ecology
    12.5 Spiritual Experience and Environmental Ethics
    12.6 Summary, Key Terms, Questions, and Further Reading
    Chapter Thirteen. Species and Biodiversity
    13.1 What Are Species and Biodiversity?
    13.2 The Instrumental Value of Species and Biodiversity
    13.3 The Final Value of Species
    13.3.1 The Natural Historical Value of Species
    13.3.2 Do Species Have Inherent Worth?
    13.4 Is There a Duty to Preserve Species?
    13.5 Climate Change and the Conservation Dilemma
    13.6 Novel Species Conservation Strategies
    13.7 Intervention or Restraint?
    13.8 Summary, Key Terms, Questions, and Further Reading
    Chapter Fourteen. Ecofeminism and Environmental Pragmatism
    14.1 Ecofeminism: Background and Context
    14.2 The Logic of Domination and the Ethics of Care
    14.3 The Importance of Diverse Perspectives
    14.4 The Motivation for Pragmatism
    14.5 Themes of Environmental Pragmatism
    14.6 Practical Efficacy in Environmental Ethics
    14.7 Summary, Key Terms, Questions, and Further Reading
    Chapter Fifteen. Environmental Justice
    15.1 Unequal Exposure and Environmental Injustice
    15.2 Environmental Justice and Cost-Benefit Analysis
    15.3 Addressing Environmental Injustice
    15.4 The Ethical Dimensions of Consumption
    15.5 Summary, Key Terms, Questions, and Further Reading
    Chapter Sixteen. Global Justice: Population, Poverty, and the Environment
    16.1 The Extent and Sources of Malnutrition
    16.2 The Lifeboat Ethic
    16.3 Feeding People and Saving Nature
    16.4 An Obligation to Assist?
    16.5 How Much to Assist?
    16.6 Summary, Key Terms, Questions, and Further Reading
    Chapter Seventeen. The Anthropocene and Environmental Ethics
    17.1 Are We in the Anthropocene?
    17.2 Why This Definition and This Name?
    17.3 Environmental Ethics with or without the "Anthropocene"
    17.4 Conclusion, Key Terms, Questions, and Further Reading