Dr. Marty McAuliffe
October 20, 2008
The world, in today’s form, could take on the ugly reality of a science-fiction movie if it does not adhere to the environmental ethics of the twenty-first century.
According to the article A Very Brief History of the Origins of Environmental Ethics for the Novice, “The inspiration for environmental ethics was the first Earth Day in 1970, when environmentalists started urging philosophers who were involved with environmental groups to do something about environmental ethics.” This new intellectual climate that had developed in the late 1960s was based on the publication of two papers. The first paper, by Lynn White, was titled The Historical Roots of our Ecologic Crisis. It appeared in the publication Science in March of 1967. The second publication was written by Garrett Hardin. It was called The Tragedy of the Commons and was published in December of 1968. These two papers served as the backbone to debate the environmental issues of the early 1970s.
Although the works of White and Hardin were used to debate the issue in the early 1970s, an article written by Aldo Leopold titled The Land Ethic, in which Leopold claimed “…the roots of the ecological crisis were philosophical,” was published in a booked he wrote in 1949 called A Sand County Almanac, thus dating environmental ethics back to the 1940s.
It would take most of the 1970s to come up with a look for the field of environmental ethics. It was being very heavily debated amongst philosophers as to the need to have environmental ethics at all. John Passmore, an Australian, wrote Man’s Responsibility for Nature, in which he argued that there was no need for environmental ethics at all. It would take until the mid-1980s for pro-environmental ethics philosophers to rebut Passmore’s theory.
In 1979, Eugene C. Hargrove founded the journal, Environmental Ethics. It was established as a way for ethics philosophers...