Environmental Ethics

How much do we owe moral recognition to other living things?

Douglas Giles, PhD
3 min readJun 11, 2024

--

(Source: Author)

The field of environmental ethics concerns human beings’ ethical relationship with the natural environment. Advances in science and technology have for centuries increased human destruction of the environment, and humans need to accept their culpability in this destruction, which may endanger our own lives. Environmental ethics developed into a specific philosophical discipline in the 1970s. Philosophy’s interest coincided with increased awareness in the 1960s and 1970s of the effects that industrialization, economic expansion, and population growth were having on the environment. Rachel Carson’s 1962 exposé, Silent Spring, warned that the widespread use of chemical pesticides was causing the destruction of wildlife and posed a serious threat to public health. Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 book, The Population Bomb, raised the alarm about the effects that the exploding human population would have on Earth’s resources. (In 1968, the world population was about 3.5 billion. In 2021 it is about 7.7 billion.)

Pollution, depletion of natural resources, dwindling plant and animal biodiversity, the loss of natural habitat, and global warming are all environmental concerns that have become part of the public consciousness. Human concern over the looming climate crisis is slowly seeping into debates…

--

--

Douglas Giles, PhD

Philosopher by trade & temperament, professor for 21 years, bringing philosophy out of its ivory tower and into everyday life. https://linktr.ee/dgilesphd