The Central Dilemma Of Environmental Ethics

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The central dilemma in environmental ethics is determining the value of nature: what kind of value does it have, what aspects of the environment have value, and from what or whom does environmental value ultimately derive? Many philosophers have proposed answers to these inquiries, but every ethic is weak in one or more of these areas. Holmes Rolston III, an American philosopher, preacher, and naturalist, has proposed a deontological argument that addresses each of the key subjects in the debate surrounding the valuation of nature (Holmes Rolston III, 2016, para. 1-2, 4). Although several essential components of his case include numerous references to macroevolution, an aspect with which Young Earth Christians would disagree, his ethic is logical, well-crafted, and on the whole aligns with a Biblical perspective of Creation. It would not seem at first that a former Presbyterian pastor would be especially interested in the realm of environmental philosophy, yet Rolston’s environmental ethic is surprisingly elegant (Holmes Rolston III, 2016, para. 2). His overall ideology can be summarized in the following statement: “Values exist in the world objectively apart from human choice or human or animal consciousness” (Smillie, n.d., para. 1). Rolston’s ethic is informed by teleology, from whence is derived his “object-with-will” argument. This philosophy is based on the idea that all organisms have purpose in living, namely life itself; thus, “value resides in the object-with-will
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