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Environmental Ethics

Environmental Attitudes

The cultural and economic background of a person is likely to influence his views with regard to the environment. While these views can vary significantly, they can generally be categorized into one of three positions: the development ethic, the preservation ethic, or the conservation ethic. Each of these attitudes represents a generalized moral code for interaction with the environment.

The development ethic considers the human race to be the master of nature and that the resources of Earth exist solely for human benefit. The positive nature of growth and development is an important theme within this philosophy. This view suggests that hard work and technological improvements can overcome any limitations of natural resources.

The preservation ethic suggests that nature itself has intrinsic value and deserves protection. Some preservationists assert that all life forms have rights equal to those of humans. Others seek to preserve nature for aesthetic or recreational reasons. Still other preservationists value the diversity represented by the natural environment and suggest that humans are unaware of the potential value of many species and their natural ecosystems.

The conservation ethic recognizes the limitations of natural resources on Earth and states that unlimited economic or population growth is not feasible. This philosophy seeks to find a balance between the availability and utilization of natural resources.

The fundamental differences between each of these attitudes are the basis for debate and conflict in environmental policies today. These views dictate the behavior of corporations, governments, and even individuals and the solution to any environmental issues will first require an acknowledgement and some consensus of attitudes.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Electrophoresis (cataphoresis) to EphemeralEnvironmental Ethics - Key Issues, Environmental Attitudes, Environmental Ethics And The Law, Major Contributors