Study Questions for Midterm Exam, Environmental Ethics, Fall 2015
Study questions, Jamieson Ch 1, 1-13
1. Explain the distinction between protecting nature and protecting the environment, using Harlem as an example.
2. Explain the criticism that environmentalism ignores the urban environment and the plight of the world’s poor and only focuses on protecting wild nature. Do you agree with this criticism?
3. In your own view how serious are environmental problems? What do you think about skepticism concerning the severity of environmental problems? Is it justified? Why or why not?
4. Explain the difference between the idea that earth and its ecosystems are stable and resilient and the notion that they are delicately balanced. Which of these (if either) do you accept and why? What is Jamieson view on this matter? Which side of this issue does the Monbiot video support and why?
5. In your own mind how important is technology as a cause of environmental problems and as a possible solution to them?
6. In your own mind how important is technology as a cause of environmental problems and as a possible solution to them?
7. Are humans part of nature or not? Explain the considerations on each side of this issue and develop your own views on it. Discuss whether our environmental problems are due in part to people’s mistaken answer to this question. How does your professor answer this question? Do you agree with him?
Questions on Moriarty on Nature (in Nature Naturalized: A Darwinian Defense of the Nature/Culture Distinction)
1. What are the two senses of ‘natural’ between which Moriarty distinguishes ? Give examples of things not natural in each of these two senses and things natural in each of these two senses.
2. On Moriarty’s view is lion culture natural in either of these senses? Is human culture natural in either of these senses?
3. Do these senses of natural allow for degrees, that is, more or less natural? Give examples.
4. Does Moriarty think humans are natural (in each of these senses)? Why or why not? Do you agree with him on this?
5. What does Moriarty think about whether what is natural is good or bad? Is everything that is natural good? Is everything that is unnatural (that is cultural) bad, on his view?
6. What is a “philosophical naturalist.” Does Moriarty embrace this view? Do you? Why or why not?
7. Explain the difference between claiming nothing supernatural exists and claiming that everything can be fully explained by the natural sciences.
8. Does thinking that what humans do is significantly cultural (as opposed to natural in the non-cultural sense-N2), imply that humans are supernatural (that is, transcend nature in this sense–N1)?
9. Evaluate the following argument from your own and from Moriarty’s perspective: Since humans are natural, what humans do is also natural.
10. Explain the argument and reasons for thinking that embracing a nature/culture distinction is environmentally problematic. Do you think it is? What is Moriarty’s view on this?
11. Explain Moriarty’s definition of “culture.” Do you think nonhuman animals have culture in this sense? Does Moriarty?
12. Evaluate this argument: If the products of humans are fully natural, then we have no way to object to roads through wilderness areas. What is wrong with this argument?
Study Questions Ron Arnold on “Wise Use”
1. According to Ron Arnold, what are the three basic assumptions of the dominant Western worldview with which the "Wise Use" movement agrees? (Hint: Faith in growth, technology, and unregulated markets.) How does he claim environmentalism challenges this worldview? Do you think this characterization of the environmental debate is fair and accurate? Which side of this dispute do you most agree with and why?
2. 2. Identify and explain Arnold’s criticisms of environmentalism. In what ways, if any do you agree with him? In what ways not? Why?
Questions on Peter Kareiva in class Video Critique of Traditional Environmentalism
1. Which of the following of Kareiva’s critiques of environmentalism do you agree with and which not and why?
a. Environmentalism is all doom and gloom.
b. Environmentalism needs to stop ignoring the needs of people and take care of people’s needs first (anthropocentrism?).
c. Environmentalism is just a white, upper middle class movement.
d. Environmentalism is imperialist and forces its values onto the developing world peoples.
e. Environmentalism falsely believes in existence and value of pristine wilderness and ignores that the human footprint is everywhere.
f. Environmentalism needs to give up the myth that nature is delicate and fragile.
g. Environmentalism needs to compromise more and work with businesses that exploit the environment.
Study Questions on Jamieson on Economics and Environment
1. In your own mind how important is economics as a cause of environmental problems and as a possible solution to them
2. Explain the following concepts and given environmental examples of each: pure public goods, externalities, internalizing externalities, discount rate.
3. In what way does Jamieson think env goods are and are not pure public goods.
4. Why do env goods tend to be over-exploited, according to Jamieson?
5. Identify and explain three objections to the economic approach to solving env problems.
6. Do markets work well in allocating public goods? Why or why not?
7. Why did Larry Summer’s argue that we need more pollution in the developing world?
8. Which (if any) does Jamieson think is key in causing and solving env. problems: technology, economics, religion/values?
Study questions for Baxter’s People or Penguins: Case for Optimum Pollution
1. Define and explain the concept of “anthropocentrism” and give an example. What makes an ethic “non-anthropocentric”?
2. Does Baxter think penguins are important? Does he think they are important for their own sake? Explain how they might be indirectly important, but not important for their own sake.
3. Explain William Baxter’s response to the claim that anthropocentrism will lead to destruction of the environment.
4. What are Baxter’s arguments for thinking nonanthropocentric ethics are unworkable in practice. Is he right?
5. Is Baxter right that environmental groups are self-interested users of the environment on a moral par with business/industry groups who also want to use the environment but for different purposes?
6. Explain (in some detail) what Baxter thinks the optimal state of pollution is.
White, The Historical Roots of our Ecologic Crisis
1. According the White, what are the historical roots of our ecological crisis? Is it science and technology? Religion? Or both?
2. Describe the features of Christianity that White thinks result in ecologically irresponsible world views and behavior. Identify three distinct features.
3. What does it mean to say a religion is anthropocentric?
4. Does White think science and technology have played a major role in getting us into the environmental crisis? How? Does he think more science and technology are the way out of this crisis?
5. Does White think there are any redeeming resources in the Christian tradition that would help move us toward a more environmentally friendly worldview?
6. How might White answer the objection that non-Christian societies (e.g., China) also destroy their environments (and why might someone think this is an objection to his view)?
Questions on Jamieson on Religion and Environment
1. Jamieson argues that Christianity is anthropocentric in a way in which other religions, including Judaism, Islam and Buddhism and Hinduism, are not. Explain why he thinks this. Explain how these other religions view the Christian idea that God became man.
2. Jamieson considers 3 possible types of causes and solutions to environmental problems. Identify the three. Which one does he think is the root cause and the one which is relevant to solving environmental problems? (Trick question)
Questions on Lodge, Faith and Science Can Find Common Ground
1. Does Pope Francis believe in evolution? Does he accept the scientific consensus on climate change? Do you? Why or why not?
2. Can one be a Christian and believe in evolution? Why or why not? What does Pope Francis think?
3. Why might a religious person think believing in climate change is “arrogant?” Why might such a person deny the need for long term environmental protection, that is, argue that we need not worry about our effects on earth 100 years from now?
Study Questions on Douthat on Pope Francis’s Call to Action on Environment and More
1. What is the difference between a dynamist and a catastrophist?
2. Which one is the Pope according to the author?
3. Which one are you and why?
4. Describe the in between position the author suggests (stagnationist). Does that seem the most likely to you?
Study Question for NY Times summary on Pope Francis’ Encyclical on Environment
1. Describe two or three key points from the Pope’s statement on the problem of the environment and then evaluate them from your own perspective. Hint: Pope’s views about relation of environment and the poor; Pope on consumerism; Pope on technology; Pope’s views on religious obligations to “take care of our common home.”
Study questions on Wenz’s “Just Garbage” and Environmental Justice
1. What is environmental justice? What is environmental racism?
2. What are the reasons for thinking it is true that nonwhites face a “disproportionate” amount of environmental hazards in this country? Do they?
3. What is the doctrine of double effect and how does Wenz use it in his critique of environmental racism?
4. Using examples, explain Wenz’s principle of commensurate burdens and benefits. How does he use this principle in his analysis of environmental justice?
5. Why does Wenz discuss consumerism and how does it fit into his argument concerning environmental justice?
6. Who does Wenz believe should receive the lion’s share of env. hazards and what is his argument for this conclusion?
7. Explain Wenz’s proposal concerning the awarding of LULU points. How does he think this suggestion would lead to a drastically reduce production level for environmental hazards?
8. What is the free market approach to the distribution of environmental hazards? Why does Wenz reject this? Do you agree with his reasoning?
Study Questions on Property and the Environment
1. What principle justifying ownership suggests that the U.S. should own the moon?
2. John Locke argues that someone comes to own a previously unowned object by mixing her labor with it. Is this a good argument justifying ownership of previously unowned things?
3. A Lockean restriction on the justifiability of owning land is that there must be as much and as good left for others after one has appropriated land. Why might this void land claims today?
4. Are property rights absolute? Is it morally or legally permissible to do anything one wants with one’s property?
5. Does ownership bring with it responsibilities as well as rights? For example?
6. *What does the 5th amendment say about “taking” of private property? Does it allow it? Hint (here is the passage): “Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
7. *How does a “regulatory taking” (e.g., above endangered species case) differ from eminent domain taking (e.g., when government physically takes a citizen’s property to build a road through it).
8. If because of the Endangered Species act one’ can’t cut trees on one’s property, does the government (i.e., the public) owe you compensation for the lost revenue? Why or why not?
9. Under what conditions do all sides of the debate agree that the government may permissibly restrict what a landowner does on his/her property and not owe him/her any compensation for lost economic value? (Hint: Consider if the owner is considering using the land in a way that is a “public nuisance”– e.g., a pig farm or brothel in a residential area.)
10. Should beaches be owned publically or privately? What reasons can be offered for each position? Should we have universal access to seashores? Should some beaches be private?
11. Do measures that beachfront owners take to protect their property sometimes lead to restricted access to public beaches? How so?
12. Should we increase or decrease the amount of “public land?” Is public space a good or a problem?
13. What reasons are there for thinking privately owned beaches would be better taken care of than publically owned beaches? “Is protecting the property rights of beachfront landowners the best way to ensure long-term beach conservation?’
14. What is “free market environmentalism?”
15. What are some problems that result from public ownership of the beach?
16. What would it mean to claim public property rights in the sky/atmosphere? Do governments have a fiduciary responsibility to protect the atmosphere?
17. Does it make sense for the public to claim damages for those who harm our atmosphere? (We do this for oil spill in oceans, why not for the pollution of the atmosphere?) How would this work?
18. Do you favor sending invoices to atmospheric polluting companies demanding payment for the harm they have caused?
19. What is the public trust doctrine?
Study Questions on “The Witness” film
1. Are there morally relevant differences between wearing fur and leather?
2. Are there morally relevant differences between wearing fur and eating animals?
3. Are Eddie Lama's views about animal psychology justified? What are they?
4. Lama argues that there are no morally relevant differences between pets (Fido) and animals used for food and fur (pigs and mink). (They are all "animals.") Is he correct?
5. Is there a problem if someone believes cruelly raising and killing animals for food is wrong but then continues to eat meat? Do they really believe it is wrong (but are too weak to act on their belief) or do they not really believe it is wrong?
6. The secretary who works for Lama is not a vegetarian and she says Lama is respectful towards her. If one tolerates others engaging in a practice, does that mean one doesn't really believe it is seriously wrong?
Study questions Jamieson, 5.1: Speciesism
1. Explain the difference between being a moral agent and being a moral patient (that is, having moral standing or being morally considerable).
2. Give an example of an indirect duty regarding something and explain why the existence of that duty does not entail that the thing had moral standing. (Hint: consider the duty not to damage my car.)
3. Using examples, explain why virtually all of the proposed criteria that are suppose to distinguish all humans from all animals end up being too demanding (excluding some humans) or not demanding enough (including some animals).
4. What is an obvious problem with making moral agency the criterion of moral standing?
5. Define “speciesism.” Explain the difference between Homo sapiens-centric speciesism and indexical speciesism. Explain the difference between absolute and moderate speciesism. What is the reason moderate speciesism gives for why humans count more?
6. Explain why the following argument is not speciesist: Because President Obama cares about his life and has complex plans for his future it would be worse for him to die than for the Obama family dog Bo to die, since Bo does not have complex plans for his future.
7. If one systematically preferred the interests of humans to nonhumans, does it follow that one is embracing speciesism? Why does Jamieson argue that it does not?
8. Explain how Jamieson uses his Dylan and Casey example to argue against moderate speciesism
Study Questions on Oral Presentations Articles on Eating Animals
1. Do you agree with Kristoff that in 200 years we will look back at our treatment of animals and wonder how otherwise could people could let that go on? Do you agree with him that there is deep hypocrisy concerning out treatment of animals?
2. What are “Ag Gag Laws?”
3. How is liver pate (“Foie Gras”) made from geese?
4. Describe some of the methods used by the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center to enhance meat production. What are the criticisms?
5. What is Wal-Mart doing in order to improve the welfare of animals used for food? Is this an example of “free market environmentalism?” How?
6. Should we care about the use of anti-biotics in production of animals used for food?
7. Describe some of the steps that some in the meat-food industry (and some states) are taking to improve conditions for animals raised for food.
8. Explain the reasoning Jay Bost (in “Give Thanks for Meat”) gives that he thinks justifies (some) meat eating. Do you agree with his argument?
9. Is there such a thing as a “conscientious meat eater?” What steps might a person take to try to be one?
10. Why does Bost think it might it be better to eat a free range cow than to buy chemical veggies at the store?
11. How does Bost attempt to justify the killing of a sentient animal for food? Do you agree with his arguments?
12. Related to above article, is it arbitrary to divide the world into two camps: those things we can kill to eat and those things we should not kill to eat?
13. Discuss the debate over whether or not environmentalists may/should eat meat. What are the environmental reasons for not eating meat? How are these different from the animal welfare reasons not to eat meat?
Study Questions on Oral Presentations Articles on Other Uses of Animals
1. What is the LD50 test? Describe the possibility and progress in finding alternatives to animal testing in the U.S., and compare it to what is happening in Europe. Is it legitimate to cause animals suffering and death for the sake of smoother skin or another brand of shampoo? Are their types of animal tests that are easier to justify? Such as?
2. Assess the ethical issues involved in hunting. Is hunting morally permissible (praiseworthy?) or not?
3. What is one reason for thinking hunters are good environmentalists and one reason for thinking they are not?
4. Is hunting a way of getting closer to nature? Argue both sides. What is your own view?
5. Describe what is involved in commercial fishing. In what way does Singer argue commercial fishing (and even individual fishing) is worse that how other animals are killed for food?
6. What is the evidence that Singer presents for the claim that fish feel pain.
7. Describe how good zoos differ from bad zoos. Be specific. What is the strongest argument for the existence of zoos? What is the strongest criticism of zoos? Should elephants be kept in zoos?
8. What is Ringling Brothers doing with its circus performing elephants and why? Should elephants perform in circuses? Should any wild animals perform in circuses?
9. Explain Peta’s argument against the institution of pet ownership. Do you agree with their arguments? Why or why not? On their view, is it permissible for people to own pets today? Explain.
Study questions on Singer’s All Animals are Equal
1. Define and explain utilitarianism. How does this moral theory determine what is right and wrong?
2. State and explain the utilitarian argument against eating meat.
3. What is the utilitarian criterion of moral standing? How does it follow from the definition of utilitarianism?
4. What makes a being sentient? Are there any living beings that are not sentient?
5. Must a utilitarian weigh animal and human pain equally when it is of the same intensity, duration, and quality? Could a utilitarian discount animal pain? Why or why not?
6. Define and explain the idea of speciesism. What are reasons for thinking this is a kind of unjust discrimination?
7. It is often argued that because typical animals are less psychologically sophisticated than typical humans, doing nasty things to both humans and animals would cause humans more pain (typically). Give an example where the relative lack of psychological sophistication would mean the animal would suffer more than the human. (Pollan has a great example of this.)
8. Give an example where it is at least arguable that the interest of a human and the interest of an animal are identical. Give an example where an animal's interests and a human's interests have the same name, but are arguably not identical interests.
9. State and explain Singer's response to the following objection: Animals and humans can't be morally equal because they are factually very different from each other.
10. State and explain Singer's response to the following objection: Humans and animals should not get equal treatment since this would involve absurdities like giving animals the right to vote and providing them with a high school education.
11. Does equal treatment require identical treatment? Why or why not? Give examples.
Study Questions on Jamieson on Singer
1. Define “an interest.”
2. What are Jamieson’s examples of pains and pleasures that may not be equal in humans and animals?
3. What is Jamieson’s response to the criticism that it is difficult to calculate and determine the relative weight of pleasures/pains across species (and so utilitarianism can’t be practically implemented).
Study questions on Regan and Animal Rights
1. What is the difference between a consequentialist moral theory like utilitarianism and a rights view like Regan’s? Which factors do they consider when determining if an action is right/wrong?
2. State, explain, and evaluate Tom Regan's two criticisms of utilitarianism.
3. What is Regan’s criterion of moral standing?
4. What does Regan mean by “being a subject of a life?” Is a tree a subject of a life for Regan? Explain.
5. What does Regan mean when he says all subjects of a life have "equal inherent value?" Does one earn such value by one's behavior?
6. Do you think it makes sense for two beings to have different amounts of inherent value (moral standing)?
7. What does it mean to treat a being as a means to one’s own ends? How is this different from treating another as a MERE means to one’s own ends?
8. Can one treat an individual with respect and still use it in a harmful way?
9. Explain the “marginal case argument” and how it is used in debates about our treatment of animals.
10. Discuss the implications of Singer's utilitarianism and Regan's rights view on the practices of factory farming, animal experimentation, and hunting. How might the two disagree with each other? Which view (if either) gives greater protection to animals? Which view (if either) is more reasonable?
11. How might an advocate of “environmental ethics”(specifically a biocentrist or ecocentrist) criticize both Singer’s and Regan’s views on moral standing (namely, sentio-centrism)?
Study Questions on Jamieson on Regan’s Rights View
1. What is “perfectionism.” What is to be said in favor of it? What is to be said against it?
2. How does Regan’s view about the obligation to help humans in trouble differ from his view about our obligations to help animals in trouble?
3. Does Regan think the death of a dog and a human are equally harmful? Why or why not?
Study Questions on Jamieson on Killing vs Causing Pain and Replacing Simple Creatures
1. How are the views of Regan and Singer different concerning painlessly raising and killing animals for food?
2. What is the difference between a simple creature and a self-conscious one?
3. Why might it be preferable to kill a simple creature (painlessly) than a self-conscious one?
4. Why might a utilitarian like Singer allow that painless killing and replacing simple creatures is morally permissible?
5. How does Jamieson criticize this “replacement argument” for eating animals that are painless raised and killed?
Study Questions on Hettinger When/Why Wrong to Kill
1. Distinguish between different types of future oriented desires and explain why if a being only has a certain type of future oriented desire that it might not be a serious harm to kill that being (painlessly).
2. Why might the “its wrong to kill a being because doing so deprives it of valuable future” argument not apply to simple creatures?
Note: We did not read Carl Cohen on Animal Experimentation
Study Questions on Pollan’s An Animal’s Place
1. What is the basic reason Pollan thinks animals are treated so badly in modern factory farming operations? What solution to this problem does he offer?
2. Does Pollan believe it is morally permissible to eat animals? If not why not? If so, why and under what conditions?
3. Does Pollan think that animals can feel pain and/or suffer? Explain.
4. Explain Pollan’s views on domestication of animals. Does he think of it as exploitation or enslavement? Why or why not?
5. Have domesticated animals benefitted from their relationship with humans on Pollan’s view? Why or why not? Assess his position from your own perspective.
6. Evaluate the claim that we should look to nature (to how nature treats animals) as a guide for how we should treat them.
7. Describe Pollan’s ideal farm. Are animals happy/fulfilled on such a farm, according to Pollan? Why?
8. Explain (and evaluate) Pollan’s suggestion that vegetarians kill more animals than do meat eaters. Explain and evaluate the suggestion that hunting is better for animals than being a “supermarket vegetarian.”
9. What is wrong with the following account of Pollan’s views about eating animals: “It’s okay to eat animals if they have been humanely raised and slaughtered. What’s wrong with current practice is the pain we inflict on the animals. Painless killing of animals is not a serious moral issue.”
Study Questions for Jamieson on Conscientious Omnivore, Vegans vs Vegetarians, and
Animals and Other Values (p. 131-144)
1. What are Jamieson’s reasons for worrying about the conscientious omnivore response to the issue of eating animals?
2. Does Jamieson believe it is better to eat sea-creatures?
3. Explain what Jamieson means by imperceptible consequences are real consequences
4. What are vegans and why do they think vegetarianism is not enough?
Study questions on Sagoff’s Animal Liberation and Environmental Ethics: Bad Marriage, Quick Divorce
5. State and explain Mark Sagoff's criticism of animal activists (such as Peter Singer and Tom Regan).
6. Is Sagoff right that an animal liberationist can't be an environmentalist and vice-versa? Why does he claim this? State and evaluate his argument for this position.
7. Discuss some of the potential differences between animal activists and environmentalists (and mention specific groups that fall into each camp).
8. What does Sagoff mean when he says that Mother Nature makes Frank Purdue look like a saint? Is he right about this? Why or why not?
9. How should an animal activist (e.g., one who believes in animal rights or that animal suffering is equally important to human suffering of the same extent) respond to the suggestion that we reintroduce predators to control ungulate populations? Can an animal activist positively value predation?
10. Does it make sense for a utilitarian like Singer to oppose human inflicted suffering of animals but not naturally occurring suffering of animals?
11. Explain and evaluate the following responses that an animal activist might give to Mark Sagoff's criticisms: (1) Animals have only negative rights (not to be interfered with) but no positive rights (to assistance); (2) Only moral agents can violate rights, and because nature is not a moral agent, when nature causes harm to animals, no rights are being violated. Humans only have a duty to prevent rights violations. Thus animal activists only opposed human caused suffering and killing.