Study Questions for Midterm

Environmental Philosophy S09



Jamieson, Ch 1: Environment as an ethical question

1.       Explain the distinction between protecting nature and protecting the environment, using Harlem as an example.

2.       Explain some of William Cronon’s criticism of “wilderness environmentalism” (the tendency in environmentalism to focus on protecting special wild places). Do you agree with Cronon?

3.       What does writer Wendell Berry think environmentalism needs to provide that it has not (see quote in chapter one notes).

4.       A good essay question: 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. Where does Callicott stand on this issue and do you agree with him?

5.       Explain the difference between the idea that earth and its ecosystems are stable and the notion that they are delicately balanced. What does Callicott say the “new ecology” says about this issue? Which of these (if either) does Jamieson accept and why?

6.       In your own mind how important is technology as a cause of environmental problems and as a possible solution to them?

7.       In your own mind how important is economics as a cause of environmental problems and as a possible solution to them?

8.       Explain the following concepts and given environmental examples of each: public goods, externalities, internalizing externalities, discount rate.

9.       Do markets work well in allocating public goods? Why or why not?

10.     Why did Larry Summer’s argue that we need more pollution in the developing world?

11.     What did Lynn White argue in the “Historical Roots of our Ecologic Crisis?”

12.     In what way is Christianity anthropocentric (human-centered) and Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism not?

13.     Does White think technology has nothing to do with the env. Crisis? How does he respond to the objection that non-Christian countries have greatly exploited their environments (and why might someone think this is an objection to his view?)

14.     In your own mind how important is religion as a cause of environmental problems and as a possible solution to them?

15.     Which (if any) does Jamieson think is key in causing and solving env. Problems: technology, economics, religion/values?

Jamieson, Chapter 2: Human Morality

16.     Jamieson on origin of morality: Describe Jamieson’s account of the necessary abilities and dispositions that animals must have if a moral system among them is to evolve. Now describe how it is possible that such a system could evolve (or “get up and running”). Why might mother nature favor the evolution of such a moral system?

17.     According to Jamieson, what, if any, is the relation between morality and reason?

18.     What is an “amoralist?” (Describe Jamieson’s Dirk).

19.     What is the account of morality given by “theism” (as Jamieson defines it)? Use Sartre’s famous line that starts “Without God.....” to explain this.

20.     Explain the difference between saying (1) moral motivation depends on God. and (2) moral content depends on God.

21.     Does Jamieson think moral motivation depends on God? Why or why not? Do you agree?

22.     Does Jamieson think moral content depends on God? Why or why not?

23.     Explain the two different reasons God’s commands may be right, the problems they may involve, and how they fit with the idea that morality depends on God. (1) Actions right in virtue of being commanded by God and (2) God commands actions because they are right independent of God’s commands.

24.     Is Jamieson arguing that it is a mistake to both believe in God and believe in morality? Why or why not.

25.     Explain what Jamieson means by “relativism.” Why does he think it is “self-contradictory?”

26.     Explain some of the other criticism Jamieson makes of relativism. What of value does Jamieson think relativism has to offer?

Jamieson, Ch. 3: Meta-Ethics

27.     Define and explain the difference between (moral) realism and (moral) subjectivism, as Jamieson explains it. (Hint: They are different views about what moral utterances are about.)

28.     Explain the difference between non-naturalism version of realism and the naturalism version of realism. How do each of these propose to verify the claim that Gorillas are valuable? Explain one criticism of (or problem with) each view.

29.     Explain the difference between the simple subjectivist version of subjectivism and the prescriptivist version.

30.     Explain why simple subjectivism makes sincerely held moral belief infallible (and why this is a problem). Explain how simple subjectivism makes moral disagreement impossible.

31.     Identify and explain the 4 different senses of intrinsic value that Jamieson identifies. If something has intrinsic value in one of these senses, does it follow that it has intrinsic value in another one of these senses?

32.     Explain the distinction between intrinsic value (in the sense of “end value”) and instrumental value. Give examples.

33.     If there are instrumental values does it follow there must be intrinsic values? Explain this “regress argument.”

 34.     What is “objective value?” If something has end value does it follow that it has objective value? (Answer: No. Can you explain why not?)

 35.     Explain “the last man argument” for objective value? What does Jamieson think about this argument? Do you think the argument establishes objective value?

Callicott “The Land Ethic”

 36.     Explain why ethics seems problematic from an evolutionary perspective.

 37.     Explain how Callicott argues (along with Darwin and Leopold) that ethics evolved by evolutionary natural selection.

 38.     Leopold argues that the next evolutionary extension of ethics needs to be to what?

 39.     Explain the difference between holism and individualism in ethics and explain how they can conflict in environmental ethics (use examples)

 40.     What is Leopold’s ethical maxim? Is it holistic or individualistic?

 41.     What is the ecofascism objection to the land ethic and what is Callicott’s response to it?

 42.     *What are Callicott’s two ranking principles for resolving conflicts created by duties arising from multiple communities? Using an example, explain how they might work. (You can use Sartre’s famous example of a Frenchman considering leaving his mother to go fight in WWII.)

 43.     What is the recent “ecology of instability” and why is it problematic for Leopold’s land ethic?

 44.     How does Callicott revise Leopold’s views to take account of the new trends in ecology (the ecology of instability), that is, what is his reformulation of the land ethics ethical maxim?

 45.     How does Callicott propose to evaluate human caused disturbances of nature? Does he argue they are unnatural and hence problematic for that reason? Use human caused mass extinction or human-caused climate change to illustrate.

Callicott “What Wilderness in Frontier Ecosystems?”

46.     *Explain and contrast the following understandings of wilderness: (1) The 17th Century Puritan idea, (2) Wilderness as transcendental recreation of Emerson, Thoreau, and Muir, (3) Roosevelt’s preserving the American Character view, and (4) New, ecological idea of wilderness. Which of the ideas are compatible with each other and which not? Which do you favor and why?

47.     Explain Frederic Jackson Turner’s “Frontier Thesis.”

48.     In what ways does Callicott support and not support the ecological idea of wilderness? What is a biological reserve? Is seeing wilderness as a biological reserve compatible with seeing it as a place for human recreation? What are conservation refugees?

49.     Are spiritual, aesthetic, hunting, fishing, camping uses of wilderness all properly seen as recreational uses? Why or why not? What does Callicott think? What was the criticism I made of this idea?

Callicott and Grove-Fanning, “Should Species of Standing?”

50.     Explain the Endangered Species Act (ESA). What sort of protections and policies does it require?

51.     Explain the difference between an ecocentric and an anthropocentric interpretation of the ESA.

52.     What is the difference between endangered species having defacto legal standing and have de jure legal standing? Which (none, either, or both) do Callicott and Grove-Fanning argue that the ESA gives endangered species?

53.     Briefly describe one or two important court cases concerning the ESA.

54.     Explain the attack on the ESA by property rights advocates that claim it involves “compensatory takings.”

Callicott “My Reply”

55.     Does Callicott think humans are natural? Part of nature? Evaluate from your own perspective the following (paraphrased) language from Callicott (P. 301, my reply): “Humans remain thoroughly primate in anatomy, physiology, and psychology, except for more language dependent cognitive and abstract consciousness. The largest part of our conscious lives, feelings of joy, sorrow, anger, remorse, jealousy, and rage; Our intense social interactions negotiated mostly by body language, facial expression and tone of voice; Our pervasive sexuality—are all utterly animal thus natural (though shaped around edges by culture). The dazzling artifacts of culture, skyscrapers, airplanes are powerful, but seem ephemeral compared to the titanic forces of nature. Humans are earthly beings, and remain even culturally, earth bound.”

56.     Callicott claims that environmentalists who don’t believe in animal rights should be more in favor of ethical vegetarianism than should be defenders of animal rights. Explain why he thinks this.

Jamieson, Chapter 4: Normative Ethics

57.     What are the three types of moral theory and how are they different in terms of what their focus concerns?

58.     Jamieson identifies three elements of consequentialism. Explain how the consequentialist moral theory “hedonistic act utilitarianism” addresses each element.

59.     How does hedonistic act utilitarian propose to define a right action?     

60.     What is the demandingness objection to consequentialism and how might a consequentialist respond to it?

61.     What is the special relations objection to consequentialism. Does Callicott believe in “special relations?”

62.     What is the justice and rights objection to consequentialism? Use an example to explain it. If the consequentialist used the “bite the bullet response,” how would he respond to this objection?

63.     What is it to have a virtue? Give examples of virtues and vices and explain why they are virtues and vices.

64.     What is the virtue ethicist Rosalind Hursthouse’s definition of a right act? Explain how Jamieson criticizes this definition with the example of blowing up a building with innocent people inside to stop mass murder about to be committed by a terrorist inside the building. Do you agree with Jamieson’s objection?

65.     Explain why Jamieson thinks it problematic for the virtue theorist to answer the question of why a virtuous person would not do evil things by saying “because doing evil things will not lead to the flourishing of the person doing them.”

66.     Questions on Kantianism to be added perhaps. (None for this exam.)

Louke van Wensveen, The Emergence of Ecological Virtue (=EVE) Language

67.     State 5 sentences that use (different) virtue language to express an environmentalist point of view.

68.     According to van Wensveen, what are some of the reasons that philosophers have been hesitant to appeal to virtue language in defending the environment?

69.     Give an example showing the diversity of ecological virtue language where one person suggests some way of relating to nature is a virtue and others characterize it as a vice.

70.     According to van Wensveen, does EVE have or need a social ethic? What is a social ethic?

71.     In your opinion, is virtue language useful in defending environmentalism? Why or why not?

Rosalind Hursthouse, Environmental Virtue Ethics (=EVE)

72.     What is the “green belief?” How does Hursthouse describe the point of EVE in term of this green belief?

73.     Explain the “short-sightedness” virtue ethics defense of the green belief. Is it a good defense? Is it an anthropocentric defense?

74.     *As forcefully as you can, make the case that many of the enjoyments that we in the developed West consider as part of ordinary pleasant life manifest the vices of greed and self-indulgence. (Use concrete examples, Hursthouse’s or your own.) Do you agree with this assessment? Why or why not?

75.     Hursthouse discusses at least 8 “old vices” and two new vices that contribute to our environmental problems. What are they?

76.     Does Hursthouse believe that we could largely solve environmental problems if we “could release ourselves from the grip” of the old vices or does she think that we need the new virtues as well to do this?

77.     Explain why Hursthouse (and many others who hold the “green belief”) think that cultivating the virtue of humility and getting rid of the vice of arrogance are important for responding to environmental problems.

78.     In addition to having a disposition to act in a certain why, what else is involved in having a virtue (according to Hursthouse)?

79.     If wonder is an emotion (it is), what is the related virtue that Hursthouse suggests is one of the new virtues that can be used to defend the green belief?

80.     Can wonder be directed at improper objects? Should wonder be in harmony with reason? What does Hursthouse think about this? What do you think about this? Use examples in your discussion.

81.     Does Hursthouse think wonder can be properly directed at things other than nature? Does she think it rational to wonder at swimming pools on the 20th floor of buildings but not wonder at the sea?

82.     Does Hursthouse think that growth of the human economy is something a virtuous person would favor? Explain. (Relate it to the virtue of being rightly oriented toward nature and the virtue of justice.)

83.     According to Hursthouse do virtues benefit their possessor? Do virtues lead to human fulfillment? (Her view is that they are necessary but not sufficient. Explain what this means.)

84.     Does she think this mean that for virtue ethics human flourishing is the “top value,” the only thing that really matters? Is the top value for virtue ethics flourishing as a human being or acting virtuously? Can one act virtuously and fail to flourish?

Philip Cafaro, “Gluttony, Arrogance, Greed and Apathy: An Exploration of Environmental Vice”

85.     What are the two reasons Cafaro gives to explain why when it comes to the environment our actions are so out of sync with our professed values.

86.     What sorts of reasons might be offered for the worry that Cafaro’s proposed solution to environmental problems is too individualistic? What is the worry?

87.     Are environmental vices an important cause of our environmental problems? Is correcting those vices necessary if we are going to solve environmental problems?

88.     Explain how what counts as a vice depends on one’s conception of flourishing (according to Cafaro).

89.     Can people be vicious and flourish? What would the virtue ethicist say? Can we harm nature (engage in environmental vices) and flourish as humans? What does EVE say (according to Cafaro)? Do you agree?

90.     Do humans need significant amounts of wild flourishing nature to lead fulfilling lives?

91.     What is gluttony? What is fine gluttony? Give examples. According to Cafaro, what harms result from gluttony?

92.     Describe types of “off road motorized recreation.” Is it arrogant as Cafaro argues? Why or why not?

93.     According to Cafaro, how does greed tend to harm the greedy themselves?

94.     What are the virtues opposite to greed and what might we do to promote them (according to Cafaro)?

95.     Why is apathy an environmental vice? How does apathy harm the environment and ourselves?