Environmental Action Study Questions


1.      Describe “no impact man.” Is he praiseworthy? Could you live that way? Should you?

2.      Why does Derrik Jensen tell us to “Forget Shorter Showers?” What is meant by worrying that we have become consumers rather than citizens?

3.      Describe Ag Gag Laws. What affect might this have on whistle blowers? Are these laws justifiable.

4.      What is Wendell Berry objecting to in his Speech Against State Government? Does he embrace violence as a response? What tactic is he embracing? What is his response to the suggestion that he needs to be patient?

5.      Describe the four cases Peter Singer gives (in Ends and Means) to help explore the question of the morality of law breaking. Which of these cases were justified in your view? Which not? Why?

         a.      Describe a case where lawbreaking to protect the environment led to environmental protection. Describe a case where lawbreaking to protect animals let to the protection of animals.

         b.      What does Singer think about the suggestion that the ends can never justify the means?

         c.      Is it always morally wrong to break the law? (Think of Oscar Schindler.) Is it always morally wrong to break the law in a democratic society? (Think of Martin Luther King.)

6.      Describe the activities of the Earth Liberation Front (and the Animal Liberation Front) as depicted in the movie “If A Tree Falls.” Do you approve or disapprove of what they did (and are? doing?) Are the individuals in these groups “terrorists?” Should they be given stiff prison terms?

7.      What is civil disobedience and how is it different from other types of lawbreaking (E.g., sabotage, terrorism, non-conscientious self-interested lawbreaking)? Is one easier to justify than the other?

8.      What are the reasons for thinking law breaking for env. goals harms the environmental movement? What are reasons for thinking it can help?

9.      If your favorite natural area (Yellowstone, Smoky Mountain National Park) was going to be destroyed (by development), would you be willing to break the law as part of a campaign to protect it? Could such activities ever be justified?

10.    If one believes animals have equal rights on a par with human rights, does it follow that one ought to break into research labs and release the animals? If one believes that fetus are persons with the same rights as you and me, then is it permissible to shoot abortion doctors?