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Environmental ethics beyond principle? The case for a pragmatic contextualism

By B. A. Minteer, E. A. Corley, R. E. Manning

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Many non-anthropocentric environmental ethicists subscribe to a "principle-ist" approach to moral argument, whereby specific natural resource and environmental policy judgments are deduced from the prior articulation of a general moral principle. More often than not, this principle is one requiring the promotion of the intrinsic value of non-human nature. Yet there are several problems with this method of moral reasoning, including the short-circuiting of reflective inquiry and the disregard of the complex nature of specific environmental problems and policy arguments. This paper advances an alternative, pragmatic contextualist approach to environmental ethics, one grounded in the moral theory of John Dewey. To support this position, results are presented of an empirical study of public environmental ethics and natural resource management attitudes, conducted in New England, USA.

Date 2004
Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 17
Issue 2
Pages 131-156
ISBN/ISSN 1187-7863
DOI 10.1023/B:JAGE.0000017392.71870.1f
Language English
Author Address Human Dimensions of Biology Faculty, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-4501, USA.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Attitudes
  2. Developed countries
  3. Environment
  4. Ethics
  5. morality
  6. natural resources
  7. New England
  8. North America
  9. OECD countries
  10. peer-reviewed
  11. Policy and Planning
  12. Public opinion
  13. resource management
  14. Social psychology and social anthropology
  15. United States of America
  1. peer-reviewed