Knowledge, Ethics and the Environement Essay

Submitted By Amanda1689
Words: 2559
Pages: 11

Aldo Leopold, author of A Sand County Almanac, wrote “The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively, the land.” (Leopold 1949) Ecologists who support the ecology perspective believe that intrinsic value should be extended to all nature, whereas anthropocentrism limits values to the human realm as it is strictly concerned with human self-interest. At present, everything that we own is simply thrown away and replaced rather than fixed as a means of convenience and self-indulgence. This combined with our constant desire for materialistic goods has caused a rapid expansion of the capitalistic culture. At its present rate, it is not only impossible to sustain but the growth will inevitably cause destruction of the earth and accelerate environmental collapse. The following essay will discuss some of the major environmental tragedies related to consumerism that are facing our world today such as technology and social competitiveness, the challenge of virtue ethics in traditional western thinking, and the lack of environmental sublime using comparative thoughts of the minds of Leopold, Goodin, Hardin, Sandler, Schroeder and Plumwood, and argue our moral obligations to the earth. At present we have a global crisis. Our society has provided us with modern technologies as a means of convenience, convinced that we have been provided with “endless fuel”. We live in an era of disposables with finite resources. There is no going back from where we are heading. In The Conservation Ethic, Aldo Leopold discusses “the story” and the problems with the four proposed solutions, knowledge, awareness, ingenuity and empowerment. For this purpose we will take a look at technology, or empowerment. He states that: “…: The distribution of more machine-made commodities to more people. They all proceed on the theory that if we can all keep warm and full, and all own a Ford and a radio, the good life will follow. Their programs differ only to mobilize machines to this end. Though they despise each other, they are all, in respect of this objective, as identically alike as peas in a pod. They are competitive apostles of a single creed: salvation by machinery.” (Leopold 1991)

Leopold states so much by saying so little in the phrase “salvation by machinery”. He discusses that despite the vast differences in “isms”, they all have a similar use of technology that plays as a central role to the development of what they have become, and in turn played a key role in to what humans have become. It is this idea that reinforces that technology is a problem with the world today. What once used to be a natural and environmentally orientated unit of individuals, now has become so disjointed with whom we used to be we have found another means of union and understanding of each other through technology. Man was not meant to control nature, and simply put there should be the adjustment of men and machinery to land and not the other way around. Furthermore he brings forth the idea that the way out of environmental problems is not as straight-forward, clear, and optimistic as one would have you believe. Goodin in the No- Avail Thesis further supports this by stating “economic behavior has become the proxy by which society determines social ranking.” We seem to have been disillusioned into believing that consumption and disposal are a means to an end, but it is this thought process that that has led us to a consumerist culture where technology is the defining factor. The problem, for the most part, seems to be basic human nature. We are competitive and selfish. Aldo Leopold, Garrett Hardin and David K. Goodin discuss the problems of human nature and bring the forward that human nature is a very complex social phenomena. (Hardin 1968; Leopold 1991; Goodin 2010) Goodin in the No-Avail Thesis argues that humans are socially competitive, but not necessarily to maximize personal gain, but