Box 20, Item 3: Draft of Human chauvinism and environmental ethics


Box 20, Item 3: Draft of Human chauvinism and environmental ethics


Printout of draft, undated. Pages 57-85 missing. Paper published, Routley R and Routley V (1980) 'Human chauvinism and environmental ethics', in Mannison DS, McRobbie, MA, Routley R (eds) Environmental philosophy, Dept. of Philosophy, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University.


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The University of Queensland's Richard Sylvan Papers UQFL291, Box 20, Item 3


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[1] leaf + [94] leaves.





Richard and Vai Routley

Class chauvinism has been and remains a cardinal weakness of most
moral codes - including, so it will be argued, Western ethics.

A most

serious failure of Western ethics is its human chauvinism or anthropocentricism - a chauvinism which emerges in a refined, and apparently more

reasonable, form as person chauvinism in much modern ethical theory.
What is chauvinism?

Class chauvinism, in the relevant sense, is

differential, discriminatory and inferior treatment (by

sufficiently many members of the class) for items outside the class, for
which there is not
justification. PLzwan chauvinism is class
chauvinism where the class is humans, zzzuZe chauvinism where the class is
human males,
chauvinism where the class is animals, etc.
It would be bud, to say the least, if Western ethics, in its various

strands, were to turn out to rest on human, or person, chauvinism.

Western ethics would then have no better foundation than, and be open to

the same sorts of objections as, moral codes based on other sorts of
chauvinisms, e.g. on familial, national, sexual, racial or socio-economic

class chauvinism - in particular it would be open to the objection that


This paper (which considerably elaborates R. Routley 'Is There a need
for d ew, an environmental, ethic?',
of f/ze XVfb VorZd
P3 1 (1973), pp.205-10), was drafted in 1973 and
read in 19
he University of Indiana, Bloomington, at Notre Dame
University, an
t the Conference on The Good Society held at the
University of
Canada. Since the main virtue of the paper has
been that it h
ed much interesting discussion, the original
form has been retained,
the authors are no longer especially
happy with the form, an
theses remain insufficiently developed or
e the previous and continuing
But in order
have been made, even though the
criticism, no substanti
paper has been raided and segments o it presented in improved form
'Against the inevitability
elsewhere, especially (a) R. and V. Rou
of human chauvinism', in MoruZ P/zfZosopbz/
e University Press,
(edited by K. Goodpaster and K. Sayre), Notre
1978, and (b) R. and V. Routley, 'An expensiv
, Choice
utilitarianism', paper presented at the Colloquium on
u?zd VuZz^g, RSSS, Australian National University, 1977.
sizeable additions have been made, with a view to incre
intelligibility and enlarging the scope of the original draft,
ing some of the many objections.



it discriminated against nonhumans in a prejudiced and unwarranted way,
and would thereby stand condemned.

For it is hard to see how an ethic

based on simple species loyalty could have any greater claim to absolute­

ness or deserve any more respect than moral codes based on simple loyalty
to national, sexual, or racial classes.

Such an ethic could no more

command allegiance - once the facts are brought into clear view - than

other normally-deplored examples of localised class chauvinism, such as
the Mafia or protection agencies or rackets or enclaves of slavery.

Unfortunately prevailing Western ethics appear to be of just this sort.



It is important, then, for defenders of the Western ideology to be

able to show - i/ it can be shown - that an ethic which discriminates
strongly in favour of humans, as Western ethics apparently does, is not

Otherwise the ethic stands condemned.

Of course not every

distinction in treatment qualifies as chauvinistic - the distinction in

treatment may not be substantial or systematic, and there may be an
adequate and explicable basis for the distinction, so that some discrimin­
ation is warranted.

In order to escape the charge of human chauvinism,

it has to be shown how and why the drastic and general discrimination in

favour of humans sanctioned and enjoined by modern (as by historical)
Western ethical systems is warranted, and that it has an adequate basis.
The extent of this chauvinism, especially with respect to animals, is at

last - after centuries of a priori prejudice and gross distortion of the
characteristics of wild animals and wilderness - beginning to be spelt
out. 1

It is at least clear from the outset that an adequate justification

cannot be provided which simply selects all and only these members of the

species human (i.e. Zzcmo sup^e^s) as zoologically defined.

nothing about the characteristic of

There is

itself (as distinct perhaps

from its accompanying properties) which could provide a justification for

overwhelmingly favourable treatment for humans (and unfavourable treatment
for nonhumans) as opposed to other possible, and possibly some actual,

nonhuman creatures.

Once again, an adequate ethic and justification can­

not possibly be based on blind and unthinking species loyalty.

The same

1 See, e.g., S. and R. Godlovitch and J. Harris (eds), 4^iwcZs^
London, 1971; P. Singer,
4 net.)
Cape, London, 1976; S.R.L. Clark, 7'Zie
-Staffs <?y 4^iwaZs, Clarendon, Oxford, 1977.


Meeds argument:

objection applies against the simple

the commonly

assumed domination of human needs over all else (e.g. over all environ­

mental considerations) has, if it is to have any merit, to be based on
more than speciesism.
We shall have to look then for some other not

merely taxonomic characteristic to provide the sought justification.
will emerge however, that any such characteristic is held or may be held
by nonhumans, and is not held, or potentially not held, by all items of
the species human.
Of course there are many characteristics which can, as a contingent
matter, be used to distinguish human beings as a general class from other

higher animals - although in fact with increasing knowledge of animals it

is no longer clear that some of these characteristics distinguish as
clearly as was assumed a priori in the past.

For example, humans have a

language, and a culture of a certain sort and even various logics.


as we are accustomed to have people point out, other terrestrial animals

do not conduct philosophical discussions on environmental ethics.


not only is participation in these activities potentially available to
nonhuman creatures, and these characteristics possibly possessed by some,
but these activities are not generally engaged in even by humans

(particularly the power elite), many humans lack the requisite competence,
and even among those who do qualify, such activities are carried out to a

very varying extent.

We run the risk, then, in applying such demanding

criteria, of ruling out, of classing as deserving of "sub-human" or "sub­
person" treatment, a considerable class of human beings - items most

humans would consider as worthy of better treatment than that normally

accorded by humans to nonhuman animals.
What is more important however is that such criteria as human
language, culture, human civilization, human intentionality, or whatever,

appear to provide no satisfactory

for the substantially

unfavourable treatment allotted those falling outside the privileged


should there be such strong discrimination in favour of
language or a higher level of

creatures having a (certain sort of)

intelligence and against creatures or items which do not, in favour of

things with a certain sort of culture or a certain logic and against

those without?

Especially when some of these criteria are clearly, and

As McCloskey remarked (in a letter dated 5.7.77 containing many helpful
comments) 'talking about needs does little but obscure the problem, as
needs, to be normatively relevant, involve reference to goods;
that merely transfers the problem'.
On next page.


unjustifiably,loaded in favour of human interests, achievements and

abilities (cf. the cultural loading of various intelligence tests).


contrast the very many respects in which some uvimuT-s or sorts of animals
are corsftierabZi/ s^pericr to /zMwars (many are noted in V.B. Droscher, T^e

Mayic o/

t^e Senses.

/VeM Diseorerfes tn ^nfmat Perception, Allen, London,

1969) are rarely considered;

yet some of these features would, if taken

in the same serious way as some respects in which humans excell, justify
a reverse chauvinism (which could be reflected as, /or example, in the
Hindu treatment of cows).
The only sort of justification for the discrimination that might

appear convincing - that those who have the given characteristic (e.g.
those that are more intelligent, or more rational, or richer) are more

valuable or worth special treatment - is vitiated by the fact that were
it accepted by Western ethics it would warrant similar discrimination

hcfMccv humans (or persons).

For how do we show that the allegedly

warranted discrimination is sufficiently different from making substantial

(class) distinctions between humans in terms of their level of intelli­
gence, linguistic or logical ability, or level or kind of cultural
achievement - so that those with "lower" levels of these valued abilities
are treated in a consistently inferior way and regarded as available for
the use of the others?

In short, these characteristics do not provide

adequate justification for the substantially inferior treatment accorded

those not having them, and so the charge of chauvinism is not escaped by
producing them.
A similar set of points applies against a number of other criteria
traditionally or recently proposed to distinguish the privileged class.


Often these are propounded in terms of personhood and criteria for being

a pgrscyz (the class marked out for privileged treatment being the class
of persons) rather than criteria for being /zvmuTZ - in order to escape

difficulties raised by young, senile, decrepit, stupid, irrational,
For undoubtedly many mammals, birds and insects can communicate, some­
times in ways analogous to language, even if the honorific term
'language' is withheld (see - to select an unfavourable source - the
discussion in E.O. Wilson,
TZze ZVetJ SpvtTzesis, Belknap,
Cambridge Mass., 1975, chapter 8 ff.).
It is becoming increasingly
evident, however, that the ascription of some linguistic ability, and
of elementary languages, to nonhuman creatures should not be withheld;
see, e.g. the details assembled in E. Linden, 4pes^ Mev
Penguin, New York, 1976.
(But contrast Wilson, op. cit., pp.555-59,
and to set this in proper perspective, consider Wilson's discussion of
ethics and aesthetics a few pages later, pp.562-65.)
Many of the criteria that have been proposed are assessed, and found
wanting, in Routley (a).


damaged and defective humans, extraterrestrial creatures, and super


to avoid the merely contingent connections between being human

and having requisite person-determining characteristics (such as ration­

ality or knowledge) supposed to warrant discriminatory treatment;

and to

defeat, though it is a pyrrhic victory, the charge of human chauvinism


equivalents of the charge, such as anthropocentricism or

But much the same problems then arise in terms of criteria for

a person, and the chauvinism problem reappears as the problem of furnish­
ing criteria which are suitably clearcut, and do separate persons from

assumed nonpersons, and which would provide an adequate justification for

substantially privileged treatment for persons and inferior treatment for

Unless such a justification is forthcoming the charge of

person c^unrin^sm is not escaped.

Most of the criteria proposed for

personhood fall down in just these sorts of ways, e.g. being autonomous,
the having of projects, the producing of junk, the assessing of some of

one's performances as successful or not, the awareness of oneself as an
Not only does it appear that (the more worthy of)
such criteria apply (or could apply) to many nonhuman animals - thus
agent or initiator.

animals are generally more autonomous (in main senses of the term) than

humans, many animals have projects (e.g. home and nest building), and they
are well aware of themselves, as opposed to rivals, as initiators of
projects - and that they do not apply uniformly to humans or indeed to

persons in any ordinary sense;

but again it is extremely difficult to

see what there is in these characteristics which would warrant or justify

the vast difference in treatment between the privileged and nonprivileged
classes, or justify regarding the non-privileged class as something

available for the
of the privileged class.
Similar objections can be lodged against the proposal that knowledge
or the possession of knowledge, provides f/zg (or a ur^c-Lai!-) distinguishing

It can hardly provide the appropriate filter, since it not only
gives no sharp cut-off point, 6 but does not even always rank humans or

persons above nonhumans or nonpersons.

Moreover, taken seriously it

should lead to substantial moral differentiation between persons, a
person's moral rating also fluctuating during his lifetime.

In any case,

For example, the shiftless intelligent person, or the primitive person,
who has no projects and engages in no moral reflection, and thus offends
protestant ethics, is not thereby deregisterable as a person, any more
than an intelligent animal with projects can join the union.
.6 on next page.


why rank knowledge so highly:

for (paca Socrates) knowledge is not the

foundation of virtue, but is frequently turned to evil ends, and even

where it is meritorious it is not the sole (or even a crucial) criterion

of worth.
Similar difficulties apply too to the historic criterion of

along with the added problem that it is very difficult to say
what it is in any clear or generally acceptable way, or to prevent it from
degenerating into a simple "pro" word.

If a hallmark of rationality is

commitment to the consequences of what one believes and seriously says,

then many humans fail the test.

If, on the other hand rationality is, for

example, the ability to discover and pursue courses and actions likely to

achieve desired goals (direct action toward goals), ability to solve
problems concerned, etc., then plainly many animals have it, and possibly

to a greater extent than humans in some cases (and of certain humans in

If it were the ability, e.g. to do

(say propositional calculus) or to assess reasoning verbally, then the (biassed)
almost all cases).

criterion would be far too strong and rule out many humans.

Again, why

should one make such a marked discrimination on this basis?

What is so

meritorious about this characteristic, that it warrants such a marked


Nothing (at least in the ordinary academic's view, or

logicians would receive more favoured treatment).
Other criteria, which yield an analytic connection between being a

person and enjoying freedom or having rationality, in part beg the


For in

persons - are free.

respect is it that persons - or worse, just

Also the justificatory problem, as to how the

claimed freedom or rationality warrants such differential treatment,

Characterisations of persons vary enormously, from so strong

that they rule out suburban humans who are not "self-made" enterpreneurs,

to so weak that they admit very /nanp animals.

An (unintentional) example

of the latter is the following:
persons, that is, ... beings who are not only sentient but also

capable of intensional autonomous action, beings that must be

ascribed not only states of consciousness but also states of
belief, thought and intention (A. Townsend,


'Radical vegetarians',

PAfZosopTip, 57 (1979), p.89).

6 In addition, the relation "a has at least as much knowledge as b" is
only a partial ordering.
For example, a dog's and a child's knowledge
may be incomparable, because they know about different matters, how to
do quite different sorts of things, etc.
(The idea that knowledge is
the key to moral discrimination, that it is what makes humans rank the
way Western ethics ranks them, may be found in C.B. Daniels, TZze
6>y FZ^fcaZ Y'/ieorfgs, Philosophy in Canada Monograph, Halifax,
Nova Scotia, 1975.)

Most rats and rabbits satisfy the conditions:

they are sentient,

conscious animals that have intentions (e.g. to get through some barrier

such as a floor or a fence), beliefs and thoughts

preferred food beyond the barrier).

(e.g. that there is

For his further argument Townsend

shifts - without notice, but in a way that is quite typical of this

scene - to

stronger requirements upon being a person (such that one

who does not meet them is incapacitated as a person) which rule out many

humans, e.g. 'The person must recognise canons of evidence and inference
warranting changes in his beliefs, and be capable of changing his beliefs
accordingly' (op. cit., p.90).

In meeting hypothetical objections, Townsend slips in a further require­
ment of rationality, but the characterisation of person given does not
include any such requirement. Subsequently, however, Townsend commits
himself, without argument, to the thesis that 'a fairly high degree of
rationality is prerequisite' to attributing 'intensionality' (as dis­
tinct from 'intentionality').
This is not going to help much.
firstly, rationality is very much a notion which admits of degrees,
without the relatively sharp cut-off stages required for pgrscvz as a
notion of orthodox moral relevance, or possessed by the notion of
to which Townsend sneaks back in his chauvinistic conclusion (p.93).
Secondly, TzozJ high a degree is prerequisite for being a person? If
only enough to satisfy the conditions for being a person, then the
animals that are persons have it.
If more, then either the initial
characterisation of a person fails or the thesis breaks down.
The much stronger requirements upon being a person that Townsend sub­
sequently appeals to are said to derive from S.I. Benn.
But, if any­
thing they strengthen one of the stronger of several KOHegtcZvaZenf
characterisations of (%afMruZ) person - none of them equivalent to
- that Benn has at various times offered. While Benn's weaker
characterisations appear to admit at least many "higher" animals, e.g.
that of a

natural person as a chooser, conscious of himself as able to make
a difference to the way the world goes, by deciding to do this
rather than that, having projects, therefore, of his own, whose life
experience may consequently be understood, not simply as a chronicle
of events, but as an enterprise, on which he puts his own construct­
ion ((a) 'The protection and limitation of privacy, Part I',
LazJ <7a^r?za:Z, 52 (1978), p.605);

the stronger characterisations which invoke (rather vaguely specified,
and (Ziy/greuf) minimum conditions of rationality in belief and action said to imply respcHsfbiZitp on bhe part of the person for what s/he
does, though they do
- exclude many of the creatures admitted by
weaker characterisations. For such stronger characterisations see
'Individuality, autonomy and community' in CowwL/yrZfp (ed. E. Kamenka)
Edward Arnold (forthcoming) and (c) 'Freedom, autonomy and the concept
of a person',
c/ thg
PocZefp, 76 (1976),


The foregoing points, taken together, support our contention that it
is not possible to provide criteria which would


in the sharp way standard Western ethics do, between humans and certain
nonhuman creatures, and particularly those creatures which have preferg
ences or preferred states.
For such criteria appear to depend upon the

mistaken assumption that moral respect for other creatures is due only
when they can be shown to measure up to some rather
and traded tests for membership of a privileged class (essentially an

elitist view), instead of upon, say, respect for the preferences of other


sk<2rp nzoraZ

commonly accepted in

ethics by philosophers and others alike, hgfzjggzz uZZ Tztzwuzzs

Zacks a satfs/cctcr^ cokcrcrzt basfs.


aZZ ofker

The distinction,

which historically rested on the assumption that humans possessed a soul
(or higher reason) but that other animals, brutes, did not, appears to
have been uncritically retained even after the religious beliefs or

philosophical theories underpinning it have been abandoned.
Given that the distinction underlying human chauvinism fails, is

there anywhere satisfactory demarcations of moral relevance can be made
among things? Yes, several divisions of wcrcZ
can be made;

of these coincides with a division into human and others.

Consider, first, the question of consideration

others, and the

matter of which offers are to be taken into account in cases where

others' interests and preferences are affected by some action.


as moral consideration for others (among sentient items) is based on

(empathetic, and essentially inductive) principles, such as

taking account of their worthwhile preferences, objectives, interests etc.,

There are of course further arguments for the contention, for example
from the anatomical and physiological affinities of human and other
animals, from their common evolutionary history, and so on. These
arguments are of varying force;
for example, evolutionary arguments
can be arrested, temporarily, by the claim that there was a "quantum
jump" in human evolutionary development which did not occur with other
creatures with a previously shared evolutionary history (cf. Wilson,
op. cit.).
Although the divisions may be conceptually sharp enough, they are any­
thing but sharp when applied in the field to the variety of creatures
and circumstances that occur.
For example, preference-havers is, so
far at least, sharp enough, but it is far from clear which creatures
qualify, e.g. which, if any, Crustacea? For the present most of these
potential decision cases are cases for cheerful indecision; but,
alternatively, the divisions may be viewed - perhaps better - not as
sharp boundaries, but as gradation states, as where two colours in a
rainbow meet.


it is difficult to see how such consideration can fail to apply to all
(including nonhuman) preference-having creatures;

and one does not need

to apply criteria such as linguistic ability, navigational ability,
intelligence, piano-playing, hunting skill, etc., to obtain a basis for
such consideration (indeed one cannot).

of preferences (and


of preferences revealed through choices) is however a quite sufficient
basis for

sort of consideration and concern.

It is at this point,

we suggest, that the requisite, important and non-arbitrary distinction
is to be drawn which marks out the class of creatures towards which

obligations may be held;

that is, the usually recognised principles of

consideration towards others (of the privileged class) properly extend or

should be generalised to consideration for other creatures having prefer­
ences, and t/ze corresponding penerut defecsihZe odtipution principle is
not to pnt others ("ot/zer pre/erence-Zzurers? into a dispre/erred state for

no pood reason.
Insofar as moral behaviour is based on consideration for others and
not harming others, preference-having provides an adequate basis, and
does appear to provide a sufficient justification for substantially
different treatment for preference-having over non-preference-having
items - because items without preference cannot (literally) be put into a

dispreferred state.

Thus preference-having appears to tie in with an

important basis for moral obligation, and appears to provide a superior

criterion, for a certain serf of moral consideration, to other criteria

sometimes proposed such as sentience - or, differently, intelligence especially since in the absence of preferences such notions as Jzurminp
something (in a way that does affect it) and damaging its interests
become difficult of application (not to say nonsignificant, except in

extended senses).

The unsatisfactoriness of the sentience criterion for

what one can hold obligations towards can be grasped from the case of the

sentient machine or purely sentient creature which does not have preferen­
ces, does not care what state it is in or whether it is destroyed,etc.

The sentience criterion is often converted by utilitarians into a suffer­
ing criterion, by taking pain as a paradigm of sentience:

but plainly

the two criteria diverge since some sentient creatures may never feel
pain or suffer.

Suffering is even less satisfactory than sentience;


suffering is neither necessary nor sufficient for being in a dispreferred

state (consider masochists who suffer but are not in a dispreferred state,
and well-treated workers who are in a dispreferred state but do not
Preference-having provides a lower bound;

it is a sufficient but

-not necessary condition for being an object of this sort of moral

consideration and concern.

That it is not necessary is revealed,

independently of environmental examples, by the following sorts of cases:

the treatment of "human vegetables", successful stoics, and science­

fiction cases in which people are brain-washed into performing certain
goals and having no dispreferred states apart from the programmed goals.

In all three cases the question of dispreferences does not arise, but
relevant moral issues can.^^
The necessary condition, that corresponds
to preference-having as a sufficient condition, appears to be capability

at some time (e.g. previously, when developed) for preference-having.
It has been taken for granted that many animals (from species higher
on the evolutionary scale) have preferences, make choices, and the like.

This is the merest commonsense, which can be readily confirmed in a
scientific way.

For example, some of the preference-rankings of a black­

tail wallaby as to types of foliage to eat are readily established by
observation, and it is fairly straightforward verifying that bushrats
prefer cheese to soap, this preference being revealed by regular choices.

It has however been claimed by some recent philosophers, for reasons

apparently different from those offered by traditional philosophers such
as Aristotle, Aquinas and Descartes,H that animals do not have intentions,
or at least do not have them in a full sense.

It is unclear whether these

intentions, which are taken to include thoughts and beliefs and, perhaps,
desires, include preferences;

but it is hard to see how preferences,

which are intentional, are excluded if desires are included in intentions.

The recent arguments to show that animals do not really have intentions,

which do not bear much investigation even in such central cases as
appear extremely feeble when applied to preference. For the
arguments start from the claim that we cannot say zj/zuf it is that animals
As N. Griffin, who supplied the examples, remarked a similar thing
happens also in less extreme cases of the type brought in to prominence,
e.g., by the women's movement: that it is possible, by means of
indoctrination, to limit the range of someone's dispreferences;
treatment of such persons may still remain immoral even when it does
not place them outside the (artificially widened) range of their
preferred states.

The traditional reasons look slight also in the case of preferences
and choices.
It would have been claimed - the theory forces the claim
- that animals' choices could not be rational.
Interestingly, choices
of many animals conform to behavioural criteria for rationality pro­
posed in economics.
See J. Bishop, 'More thought on thought and talk',
and R. Routley, 'Alleged problems in attributing beliefs to animals',
paper prepared for the FeZig/ conference, University of Queensland,

believe (of course very often we can, and unproblematically) and fall back
on the claim that animals lack concepts of a fit sort.

In the case of

preferences, however, there is often no problem in saying what it is
animals prefer, or in confirming the claim.

Nor is it that we cannot

attribute propositional-style preferences to animals; if black-tail
wallabies prefer, as they do, new foliage to old then they prefer the
foliage's being new over the foliage's being old.

As for the concept

claim, in the sense in which concept is delineated in psychology, animals

have concepts.

And if a philosopher's notion of "concept" gets in the

way of the claim that free dogs prefer bones to carrots (or other

vegetables) then it is not the claim that requires revision, but the
philosopher's notion.
The preference-having criteria appear to distinguish non-arbitrarily
and sharply enough between higher animals and other items, and to rule out

of the relevant class elementary animals, trees, rocks and also some human

items, e.g. human kidneys.

The criteria plainly exclude inanimate objects,

and they separate animate objects.

For while living creatures such as

plants and elementary animals can be said in an extended sense to have

and also optimal living conditions, e.g., for healthy develop­
ment, and in
sense to have preferred states or environments, they do
not have preferences, and cannot strictly be harmed or have their welfare

affected, in that they can be put into states they disprefer.

Nor do

empathy and analogical considerations extend beyond preference-having
for only these can care about how they are treated.
At the same time the criteria indicate another important division.

For in a wider sense, animate objects which do not (significantly) have

preferences or make choices, are sometimes said to have 'preferred states'

or 'preferred environments'

(as, e.g., in 'the plant prefers a sunny

frost-free location with a well drained soil').
us say that the


To avoid confusion let

of animate objects and also such

biological items as ecosystems can be affected in one way or another, e.g.

increased, decreased, upset.

For instance, the wellbeing of a coastal

community and of the individual trees in it can be reduced to zero by

sandmining, and it can be seriously threatened by pumping waste detergent

In this broad sense too, living things, things that participate in the
growth process, have interests. However under a narrower and more
common determinate of the slippery term 'interests', only preference­
havers have interests (again sentient creatures do not provide the
Because the term 'interests' so readily admits of high
redefinition, and the infiltration of chauvinism, its use is better
limited (or even avoided), in favour of other more stable terms.


into the nearby ocean.

There is a general obligation principle

corresponding likewise to this more comprehensive class of welfare­
bearers, namely, z-zat fa jaaparjise tTze zJaHhefzzp a_f ?zatzzraZ abjaafs or
sz/sfews zjft/zaz^t paad reasor.
Moral coroerr does not of course end with what is in some way

animate, much as the class of valuable objects is not tied to what relates
suitably to central preference-havers.

In suitable settings, a

(virtually) dead landscape, a rare stone, a cave, can be items of moral
or aesthetic concern;

indeed any object of value can in principle be of

such concern, and arzp abjact car., in principle at least, be ar object a/

value or disvalue, and so of morat corcerr.

corcerrfry almost any sort of object.

There can then be obligations

Naturally only a fraction of the

things that exist have especial value, and only a few of the things that
exist will be things concerning which some of us have obligations.
Furthermore these sorts of obligations do not in general reduce to the

conditions or arrangements (e.g. contractual or joint welfare arrangements)
of preference-havers or some select subclass thereof (what will sub­

sequently be called, as the argument is developed, the base c^ass).

Just as there are relevant divisions beyond the class of preference­
havers, so there are within the class.
Thus the suggestion that the class
hazards which moral obligations (and a corresponding serf of moral concern

which takes account of creatures' states) may be held is bounded by the
class of preference-havers, does not of course imply that %a dfsfizzcfiazzs

can be made zjffbfrz the class of preference-havers with respect to the kind
of behaviour appropriate to them.

For example, cazifracfzzaT- obligations -

which by no means exhaust obligations - can only be held directly (as

distinct from by way of a representative) with respect to a much narrower

class of creatures, from which many humans are excluded.

The class is

also distinct from the class of persons, at least as 'person' is usually


What emerges is an ann^Zar pfcfzzra of types of objects of moral
relevance, some matched by types of moral obligation (described toward the
end of Routley (a)), with nested zones representing respectively different

sorts of objects - such as, objects of moral concern, welfare-having
objects, preference-havers (and choice-makers), right-holders, obligation­
holders and responsibility-bearers, those contractually-committed-and the
different sorts of obligations that can significantly apply to such


Not all the types of objects indicated are distinct, nor is the

listing intended to be exhaustive but rather illustrative.

For strictly

the labels given should be expanded, as the distinctions are categorial

ones, so that what matters is not whether an object is, for instance,

contractually committed in some fashion but whether it is the sort of

thing that can be, whether it can significantly enter into or be committed
by arrangements of a contractual kind.

is to


function as a categorial marker, that marks out the sorts of things that
can (significantly) have preferences:

the assumption that preference­

havers coincide with choice-makers is based on this categorial reading.
Although the annular picture is (as will become clear in §5) important
for the environmental alternative to be elaborated, and in meeting object­

ions to it, the countercharge has been laid that it reintroduces chauvin­
ism through its inegalitarian distinctions.

This is a mistake:


every sort of ethical distinction, certainly not a justified distinction,
involves chauvinism.

Chauvinism is exhibited where, for example, objects

of a favoured class are treated in a preferential way to superior items

of an exluded class, e.g. defective humans as against apes, degenerate
French against normal Pygmies.

The annular picture neither involves nor

encourages such differences in treatment:

it is neutral and unchauvin-

istic, for the reason that it relies only on categorial distinctions
which tie analytically with ethical notions (see the semantical analyses
of §5).

It is certainly in no way species chauvinist or human chauvinist.

For none of the zones of the annular picture comprises the class of

humans (or its minor variant the class of persons); for this class is
not of moral relevance. The reason is that the human/nonhuman distinction
is not an ethically significant one, and can, and should, be demoted from

its dominant, and damaging, position in ethical theory. But dropping the
notion of
out of ethics, is only part of the ethical change that is
called for:

taking due account of nonhumans is also required.

In particular - to return to the theme - what is quite unacceptable,
. .
and based on a set of distinctions which are arbitrary and unjustifiable,
is the

differential treatment enjoined nonpersons as distinct

from persons under Western ethics, and the view that only persons or
humans have any (nonderivative) right to moral consideration and concern

as preference-havers and that there are obligations towards other creatures
14 According to Q. Gibson such a criticism of chauvinism is based firmly
on Western ethical equality and egalitarian principles. This is simply
not so:
there is no reliance on such principles. The general argument
takes the form;
feature f cannot be what justifies the differential
treatment of humans and nonhumans, because either f is not morally
relevant or not all humans have f or some nonhumans have f. Neither
equality nor substitutions based upon equality are invoked at any
stage. Moreover Western equality principles - at least as convention­
ally formulated - are in serious doubt, especially with the rejection
of human chauvinism (see further §6).


only insofar as these are or reduce to obligations to persons or humans.


Western ethics are, then, human chauvinist in that they characterist­

ically take humans (or, to make a slight improvement, persons) to be the

only items worthy of proper moral consideration, and sanction or even
enjoin substantially inferior treatment for the class of non-human

preference-having creatures, without - so it certainly appears - adequate

The prevailing nineteenth century Western attitude to wild

creatures is evident from Judge Blackstone (quoted approvingly in
W. Cobbett,
Penguin, London, 1967, pp.431):
With regard likewise to wild animals, aZZ

bub by tbe

o/ ZTzg Creator a right to pursue and take away
any fowl or insect of the air, any fish or inhabitant of the
waters, and any beast or reptile of the field:

and this

natural right still continues in every individual, unless
where it is restrained by the civil laws of the country.

And when a man has once so seized them, they become, while
living his qualified property, or if dead, are absolutely
his own.

Prevailing Western attitudes have not shifted markedly since that time;
for example, foresters, widely regarded as socially responsible, think
nothing of dislodging from their homes and environment, or even destroying,
communities of animals which do not directly interfere with human welfare.

But there is another very important broader respect in which

Western ethics are human (or person) chauvinistic, namely in the treat­

ment accorded to and attitude taken towards the broader class of natural
items such as trees and forests, herbs, grasslands and swamps, soils and

waterways and ecosystems.

Unlike higher animals such items cannot liter­

ally be put into dispreferred states (and in fbbs obvious sense, as

opposed to the wider sense of 'interests' tied to welfare, they have no

interests), but they can be damaged or destroyed or have their uaZ^e
eroded or impaired.

The Western, chauvinistic, assumption is that this

can only happen where human interests are affected.

The basic assumption

is that value attaches essentially only to humans or to what serves or
bears on human interests, or derivatively, to items which derive from
human skill, ingenuity or labour.

Since natural items have no other value,

there is no restriction on the way they are treated insofar as this does

not interfere with others;

as far

as -ZsoZufgb natural things are con­

cerned anything is permissible.

It is, at base, because of these chauvinistic features of Western ethics

that there is a need for a new ethic and value theory (and so derivatively for
a new economics, and new politics, etc.) setting out not just people's
relations to preference-havers generally but also (along with many other
things) people's relations to the natural environment - in Leopold's
words 'an ethic dealing with man's relation to land and to the animals
and plants which grow upon it'

(A. Leopold,


zlZ-muzzur? zjvt/z

ot/zer essays on Conservation, New York, 1966, p.238).
It is not of course
that old and prevailing ethics do not deal with man's relation to nature:

they do, and on the prevailing view man is free to deal with nature as he

pleases, i.e. his relations with nature - insofar at least as they do not
affect others, as pollution and vandalism do - are not subject to moral

Thus assertions such as 'Crusoe ought not to be mutilating

those trees' are significant and morally determinate but inasmuch at least
as Crusoe's actions do not interfere with others, they are false or do not

hold - and trees are not, in a good sense, moral objects.

It is to this,

to the values and evaluations of the prevailing ethics, that Leopold,

Fraser Darling and many others, both earlier and later, take exception.

Leopold regards as subject to moral criticism, as wrong, behaviour that on
prevailing views is morally permissible.

But it is not, then, as Leopold

seems to think, that such behaviour is beyond the scope of the prevailing

ethics and that merely an extension of traditional morality is required
to cover such cases, to fill a moral void.
If Leopold is right in his
criticism of prevailing conduct, what is required is a change in the
ethics, in attitudes, values and evaluations;

for example, what is

permissible on the prevailing ethics will be no longer permissible on the

For as matters stand, as Leopold himself explains, humans generally

do not feel morally ashamed if they interfere with a wilderness, if they
maltreat the land, extract from it whatever will yield, and then move on;

and such conduct is not taken to interfere with and does not rouse the

moral indignation of others, and is accordingly permissible on prevailing

As Leopold says:

A farmer who clears the woods off a 75% slope, turns his cows
into the clearing, and dumps its rainfall, rocks, and soil into
the community creek, is still (if otherwise decent) a respected

member of society (op. cit., p.245).

Only recently has such behaviour begun to be seriously questioned and

become the subject of criticism, e.g. by environmentalists.

Under what

will be accounted an erzvvroHwgutaZ. et/zvc, however, such traditionally


permissible conduct would be accounted morally wrong, and the farmer
subject to proper moral criticism.

That ethics and morality are not, and never have been, restricted to
human concerns, or exclusively to relations between persons, is important
in rebutting objections to the very idea of an environmental ethic, based

on the premiss that morality just is restricted (definitionally) to human
relationships (and connected values) and is not significant beyond that.

The problem of moral relations with respect to preference-havers other

than persons and to inanimate items cannot be resolved or escaped simply
by declaring morality to apply solely,or as a matter of meaning or defin­
ition only to humans (or to persons).

For first, such a solution would

run counter to the common view that humans are subject to seme moral con­

straints, even if comparatively minor ones, towards other creatures;


having of such constraints cannot be ruled out definitionally, and corres­

pondingly the judgments formulating these constraints or prohibitions
cannot be ruled out as nonsignificant, yet they are surely moral.


only way in the end, that the claim gets support is by a narrow, and no

longer acceptable, account of what is mcraZ in terms of concern with
humans alone (cf. §6).

Likewise, the question of the moral interrelations

of humans with intelligent nonhuman extraterrestrial beings, even if at
present hypothetical, is certainly a meaningful one, and some interesting
and clearly moral issues of this sort are frequently raised in science


Only if the extent of morality is, somewhat misleadingly, reconstrued
in terms of the class of constraints on the behaviour of those it applies

to - that is, in terms of limitations, as distinct from moral freedom does the claim that Western morality is restricted to humans (or persons)

begin to gain plausibility.

For it is true that beyond the favoured base

class, humans or persons, few constraints are supposed to operate (and ad
hoc ones at that) unless the welfare of members of the base class is

adversely affected.

Under an environmental ethic, such as that Leopold

advocates, this would change:

previously unconstrained behaviour would
sense the scope of morality would

be morally circumscribed, and in
be extended.

It is not evident, however, that a

ethic, an


in the case at hand, is required to accommodate even radical new judgments

seriously constraining traditionally approved conduct, i.e. imposing
limitations on behaviour previously considered morally permissible.


one reason it is none too clear what is going to count as a new ethic,
much as it is often unclear whether a new development in physics counts as
a new physics or just as a modification or extension of the old.


notoriously, ethics are not clearly articulated or at all well worked
out, so that the application of identity criteria for ethics may remain


They are nonetheless (pace Quineans) perfectly good objects for


Furthermore, there is a tendency to cluster a family of

ethical systems which do not differ on core or fundamental principles
together as the one ethic:

e.g. the Christian ethic, which is an umbrella

notion covering a cluster of differing and even competing systems.
There are two other possibilities, apart from a new environmental
ethic, which might cater for the new principles and evaluations;

that of

an extension or modification of the prevailing ethic, and that of the

development of principles that are already encompassed or latent within

the prevailing ethic.

The possibility that environmental evaluations can

be incorporated within (and ecological problems solved within) the not

inflexible framework of prevailing Western ethics, may appear open because

there is not a single ethical system uniquely assumed in Western civiliz­

on many issues, and especially on controversial issues such as

infanticide, women's rights and drugs, there are competing sets of


Talk of a new ethic and prevailing ethics tends to suggest a

sort of monolithic structure, a uniformity, that prevailing ethics, and
even a single ethic, need not have. The Western ethic is not so monolithic
In particular, three important traditions in Western ethical views
concerning man's relation to nature have recently been mapped out:
dominant tradition, the despotic position, with man as despot (or tyrant),
and two lesser traditions, the stewardship position, with man as custod­

ian, and the cooperative position with man as perfector.

the only traditions;

Nor are these

primitivism is another, and both romanticism and

mysticism have influenced Western views.
The dominant Western view is simply inconsistent with an environmental

for according to it nature is the dominion of man and he is free

to deal with it as he pleases

(since - at least on the mainstream Stoic16
Augustine view - it exists only for his sake ), whereas on an

See especially (a) J. Passmore, Afurz's
Duckworth, London, 1974;
also R. Nash,
Affzzd, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1973.
(All further references
to Passmore's work are, unless otherwise indicated, to Passmore (a).)
dominant position has also been sketched in many other recent
texts, e.g. I. McHarg,
Doubleday, New York, 1969,
while the lesser traditions have been appealed to in meeting criticisms
of the Western ethic as involving the dominant view.
The masculine particles are appropriate;


so is the resulting tone.

environmental ethic man is not so free to do as s/he pleases.

But it is

not quite so obvious that an environmental ethic cannot be coupled with
one of the lesser traditions.

Part of the problem is that the lesser

traditions are by no means adequately characterised anywhere, especially
when the religious backdrop is removed, e.g.

(as further considered in

§4) who is man steward for and responsible to?

However both traditions

are inconsistent with a deeper environmental ethic because they imply

policies of complete interference, whereas on an environmental ethic some
worthwhile parts of the earth's surface should be preserved from sub­

stantial human interference, whether of the "improving" sort or not.

Both traditions would in fact prefer to see the earth's land surfaces
reshaped along the lines of the tame and comfortable but ecologically

impoverished European small farm and village langscape.

According to the

cooperative position man's proper role is to develop, cultivate and

perfect nature - all nature eventually - by bringing out its potential­
ities, the test of perfection being basically

while on the stewardship view man's role, like that of a farm
manager, is to make nature productive by his efforts though not by means
that will deliberately degrade its resources.

Thus these positions

figure among those of the shallow ecological movement (as depicted by

A. Naess,

'The shallow and the deep, long-range ecology movement',

16 (1973), 95-100):
longer term.

they are typically exploitative, even if only in the

Although these lesser positions both depart from the dominant

position in a way which enables the incorporation of some evaluations of

an environmental ethic, e.g. some of those concerning the irresponsible
farmer, and allow for some of the modern extensions of the Western ethic

that have been made, e.g. concerning the treatment of animals and
criticisms of vandalism, they are not well-developed, fit poorly into the
prevailing framework, and do

^<9 /ar

For in the present

situation of expanding populations confined to finite natural areas, they
will lead to, and enjoin the perfecting, farming and utilizing of all

natural areas.

Indeed these lesser traditions lead to, what a thorough­

going environmental ethic would reject, a principle of total use, implying

that every natural area should be cultivated or otherwise used


17 if 'use' is extended, somewhat illicitly, to include use for
preservation, this total use principle is rendered innocuous at least
as regards it actual effects.
Note that the total use principle, in the usual sense, is tied to the
resource view of nature (cf. (d) R. and V. Routley, T/ze
/or f/ze
Forests, Third Edition, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian
National University, 1975).
Such a principle, like the requirement of
economic growth, emerges directly from - it is an integral part of neoclassical economic theory.


As the important Western traditions mentioned exclude an


mental ethic, it would appear, at first glance anyway, that such an ethic
- not primitive, mystical or romantic - would be new alright - or at
least new from a Western perspective.

For, from a wider perspective,

which takes due account of traditional societies (such as those of some

American Indians, Australian Aboriginals, and Pygmies), there is, it will
turn out, nothing so very new about what is included in (as distinct from

the theoretical setting of) the "new" ethics.

Even from the narrow

Western perspective, the matter is not so straightforward:

for the

dominant ethic has been substantially qualified, in particular by the
rider that one is not always entitled to do as one pleases where this
physically interferes with others. " It may be that some such non-inter­

ference proviso was implicit all along (despite evidence to the contrary);
and that it was simply assumed that doing what one pleased with natural
items would not affect others (a?2CMfnfcr/cre?Ycc cssz^npffcyz).
Be this as
it may, the wcdfyfeti
pcsfffoz? appears, at least for many thinkers,
to have supplanted the dominant position;

and the modified position can

undoubtedly go much further towards an environmental ethic.

For example

the farmer's polluting of a community stream may be ruled immoral on the

grounds that it physically interferes with others who use or would use the


Likewise business enterprises which destroy the natural environ­

ment for no satisfactory (taxable) returns or which cause pollution

deleterious to the health of future humans can be criticised on the sort

of welfare basis (e.g. that of P.W. Barkley and D.W. Seckier, Economic

Humanization, and humanitarian measures, may be a cloak for human
chauvinism - in which case, far from being virtuous, they may be
positively undesirable.
Also, as Leopold has observed, the class of others has been progress­
ively widened, e.g. from the family group, to the tribe, to the nation
or race, even to all humans including often enough future humans - but
rarely further in the West until recently.
20 The assumption is not the same as its relative, Benn's principle of
rzo^-i^fcrycrcuce, 'that no one may legitimately frustrate or prevent
(or interfere with) a person's doing what he chooses to do, unless
there is some reason for preventing him' (Benn (c), op. cit.;
from (a), p.605). The principle is said to derive from 'the notion of
a person' (e.g. (a), p.605), but it only so derives given commission
of the fallacy of conversion of an A-proposition. Moreover even
reduced to a 'formal principle ... locating the onus of justification'
(cf.(a)), the principle is dubious, especially cyiven principles of
respect for objects other than persons, with which persons may be
It is, however, a formal principle that will help to
keep entreprenuerial humans happy.




T^g S

f-ggcwgs f/zg PrchZgw^

York, 1972) that blends with the modified position;

be criticised on welfare grounds;

and so on.


vandalism can usually

The modified position may

even serve to restrict the sort of family size one is entitled to have,
since in a finite situation excessive population levels will interfere

with future people.

Nonetheless neither the modified dominant position

nor its Western variants, obtained by combining it with the lesser trad­

itions, is adequate as an environmental ethic.

None moves outside human

They are all encompassed under the Dowz'nic?? t??gsis - the

view that the earth and all its non-human contents exist or are available
for human benefit or to serve human interests, and hence that humans are
entitled to manipulate the world and its systems as they want, in their

own interests - which is but the ecological restatement of the strong
thesis of human chauvinism, according to which items outside the privil­

eged human class have no value except one as instrumental value (both
theses are criticised in Routley (a)).

To escape from chauvinism, and from

its thesis, a new ethic 7s wanted, as we now try to show.


The main argument is directed primarily against the modified

dominant position, but will incidentally show the inadequacy of the lesser
Western traditions.

The strategy is to locate core features of Western

ethics, and to reveal through examples their thoroughgoing chauvinism

and class bias, and in this way to provide decisive grounds for rejecting

For the general argument some more technical points have to be made



(An) gf^7g is ambiguous, as between a specific ethical system, a
spgcffiu ethic, and a more generic notion, a SMpgr-gf^fg, under which
specific ethics are grouped.

(As usual, a wgfu-ethic is a theory about

ethics, super-ethics, their features and fundamental notions.)


sz/sfgm s

is, near enough, a propositional system (i.e.

a structured set of propositions) or a theory which includes (like
individuals of a theory) a set of values and (like postulates of a theory)

a set of general evaluative judgments concerning conduct, typically of

what is obligatory, permissible and wrong, of what are rights and
responsibilities, what is valued, and so forth.

(On newer perceptions an

ethical system will include rather less in the way of prescriptions, of

duties, obligations and the like, and more as to what are matters of care

and of concern and for respect.)

Since an ethical system is propositional

in character, such notions as consistency, coherence, independence of


assumptions, and the like, apply to it without further ado.

It is

evident, from a consideration of competing or incompatible values and

principles, that t/zgre are Z^z/iz-z-ZteZz/ wary gf/zZcuZ sz/stezns.


appropriately general criteria for rationality will not reduce this

class to a singleton. . Accordingly, there is logical space for aZferratire
ratiaraZ etTzies.
A general or lawlike proposition of a system (characterised along
similar lines to a scientific law) is a pr-ZzzcZpZe;

and certainly if

systems Si and S2 contain different principles, they they are different


It will follow then that an environmental ethic differs from

the important traditional ethics outlined if it differs on some principles.

Moreover if environmental ethics differ from each Western ethical system

on some core principle or other embedded in that Western system, then

these systems differ from the Western super-ethic (assuming, what seems
to be so, that that ethic can be sufficiently characterised) - in which
case if an environmental ethic is needed then a new ethic is wanted.

would suffice then to locate a common core principle and to provide
environmental counterexamples to it.
It is illuminating (and necessary, so it will emerge) to attempt to
do a little more than this minimum, with a view to bringing out the basic
assumptions of the Western super-ethic.

Two major classes of evaluative

statements, commonly distinguished, are axiological statements, concerning

what is good, worthwhile, valuable, best, etc., and deontological state­

ments, which concern what is obligatory, permissible, wrong, etc.


there appear to be core principles of Western ethics on both axiological
and deontic fronts, principles, for example, as to what is valuable and
as to what is permissible.

Naturally these principles are interconnected,

because anything is permitted with respect to what has no value except

insofar as it interferes with what does have value.
A strong historical case can be made out for what is commonly

assumed, that there are, what amount to, core principles of Western
ethical systems, principles that will accordingly belong to the superethic.


The fairness principle inscribed in the Golden Rule provides one

Directly relevant here, as a good stab at a core deontic

principle, is the commonly formulated liberal principle of the modified
dominant position. A recent formulation of this principle runs as
follows (Barkley and Seckier, op. cit., p.58):


On next page.


The liberal philosophy of the Western world holds that (D) one

should be able to do what he wishes, providing (1) that he
does not harm others {and (2) that he is not likely to harm
himself irreparably}.
The principle, which is built into or derivable from most traditional

ethical theories, may be alternatively formulated in terms of permissib­

ility, as the principle that a pgrscu's action is

<ioos not intor/ere zjit/z others,

profide<i if

(i.e. other people, including perhaps the

A related economic principle is that free enterprise can operate


within similar limits.

It is because of these permissibility formulations

that the principle - which incorporates fundamental features of (human or
person) chauvinism - is sometimes hailed as a freedom principle;

for it

gives permission to perform a wide range of actions (including actions
which degrade the environment and natural things) providing they do not

harm others.

In fact it tends to cunningly shift the onus of proof to

It is worth remarking that 'harming others' in the restriction

is narrower than a restriction to the (usual) interests of others;

it is

not enough that it is in my interests, because I detest you, that you stop


you are free to breath, for the time being anyway, because it

does not harm me.

There remains a problem however as to exactly what

counts as harm or interference.

Mo'reover the width of the principle is

so far obscure, because 'other' may be filled out in significantly
different ways:

it makes a difference to the extent - and privilege - of

The principle is attributed by Barkley and Seckier to Mill, though
something like it was fairly common currency in nineteenth century
European thought. It appears, furthermore, that Mill would have
rejected the principle on account of clause (2): thus, for example:
Those interests, I contend, authorise the subjection of
individual spontaneity to external control, ouZi/ in respect of
those actions of each, which concern the interest of
people (J.S. Mill,
Everyman's Library, Dent, London, 1910, p.74,
emphasis added).
The deletion of clause (2) from (D) does not affect the general
argument: hence the braces.
(We owe this reference and the points in
the next footnote to N. Griffin.)

A similarly modified form of (D) is found in much recent Western
literature, even radical literature which purports to make due allow­
ance for environmental concerns. A good example of the latter is
I. Illich, TcoZs /or
Calder & Boyers, London, 1973,
where Mill's (D) appears, in various forms, at several places (e.g.
p.xii, p.41). What this indicates is that Illich's "convivial society"
will not - if its principles are taken seriously - move beyond
chauvinism in its treatment of animals and the natural environment;
will at best yield some form of resource conservation.

the chauvinism whether 'other' expands to 'other human' - which is too
restrictive - or to 'other person' or to 'other sentient being';

and it

makes a difference to the adequacy of the principle, and inversely to its

economic applicability, to which class of other persons it is intended to

apply, whether to future as well as to present others, whether to remote

future others or only to nondiscountable future others, and whether to
possible others.

The latter would make the principle untestable and com­

and it is generally assumed that it

pletely unworkable in practice;

applies at most to present and (some) future others, to those to whom it
would make a (fairly immediate) difference (thus excluding past others ).
For the purposes of the general argument however, the problems in specify­

ing the class of others is not material, so long as the class includes no
more than persons that at some time exist.
Fortunately the main argument is not very sensitive to the precise

formulation of principle (D).

Not only can clause (2) be deleted, and

'other' left rather unspecific, but additions can be made;

then even if

the main argument does not succeed, minor oarianfs a/ fba main argument
zjiZ^ snccooti.

An important case concerns the treatment of animals.

Unless (D) is construed widely (extending 'other'), or hedged by further
qualifying clauses,the basic principle fails to take proper account of

concern for animals, especially that one should not inflict "unnecessary"
cruelty or "impermissible" harm.
animals then comes to matter;
these issues can be avoided.

What counts as permissible harm to

and familiar conflict issues arise.


For the core principle (0), of basic

chauvinism, can be modified to include (historically recent) moral concern
for higher animals by adding, after 'harm others', something like 'or harm

animals unnecessarily'.

Then however the new principle succumbs to the

Although the interests and preferences of past others are excluded in
conventional utilitarianism, as in (welfare) economic theory and vot­
ing theory, these are often respected in ethical and legal settings,
e.g. in wills, last wishes, etc. Similarly (as N. Griffin also point­
ed out), in the treatment of "human vegetables", past preferences of
the person when capable of making decisions are often taken to be
morally relevant, or even decisive, to the question as to whether to
keep the body alive.

If merely possible persons are included then the valuational rankings
of environmental ethics, indeed of virtually any ethics, can be
reflected in a "utilitarian" fashion. The argument of (c) R. and V.
Routley, 'Semantical foundations for value theory', /Vaas (accepted
for publication in 1974;
still forthcoming?), can be used to show this.

Or unless it can be made out, what seems entirely implausible, that
what is wrong with torturing animals is not what it does to them but
the way it affects other people (the Aquinas-Kant thesis).


attitudes, and more comprehensively the associated ideologies, are of
critical importance;

for it is to these and Western influence that the

world's main - serious and very extensive - environmental problems can be
Hypothetical situations are introduced in designing counterexamples
to core principles (D) and (A).

The basis of the method lies in the

semantical analyses of permissibility, obligation and value statements
which stretch out over ideal situations (which may be incomplete or even

inconsistent), so that what is permissible holds in some permitted
situation, what is obligatory in every such situation, and what is wrong
is excluded in every such situation.


But the main point to grasp for

the counterexamples that follow, is that ethical principles if correct are

universal and are assessed over a class of situations.

Thus hypothetical

cases are logically perfectly legitimate and cannot be ruled out on one

pretext or another, e.g. as rare, as desert island cases, as hypothetical,
The counterexamples to (D) and (A) presented depend largely on


designing situations different from the actual where there are either too
few or too many humans or persons. But alternative special situations

where interference with others is minimized or is immaterial are readily
(i) The


The last man (or woman or person)

surviving the collapse of the world system sets to work eliminating, as

far as he can, every living thing, animal or plant (but painlessly if you
like, as at the best abattoirs).

What he does is quite permissible

according to principle (D) but on environmental grounds what he does is


Moreover one does not have to be committed to esoteric values to

regard Mr. Last Man as behaving badly and destroying things of value (the
reason being perhaps that radical thinking and values have shifted in an

environmental direction in advance of corresponding shifts in the

Characteristically Westerners have attempted to recast these value
systems, sometimes misleadingly, in a religious guise - probably because
it was thought that there was no non-religious way of presenting them so
as to make them intelligible or have them comprehended.
Thus they get
represented as basically chauvinistic in view of the relations of Man
and God.
On these semantical analyses, which avoid all the usual problems of
modal theories of axiological and deontic terms, see R. Routley,
R.K. Meyer, and others,
Australian National University, 1979, chapters 7 and 8. A sketch is
given in §5 below.
The situations or worlds with respect to which the interpretation is
made permit of different construals;
e.g. instead of permitted situ­
ations, the situations can be construed evaluatively as ideal


formulation of fundamental evaluative principles).
The usual vandalism charge does not apply against Mr. Last Man
since he does no damage to others.

Moreover, Mr. Last Man's activities

may be toned down to avoid any vandalism charge, yet succumb to the

(extended) chauvinist charge, e.g. he may simply destroy seme environ­
mentally valuable things unnecessarily (without due reason or some need).

(ii) The Zusf pecpZe example.
to the last people example.

The last man example can be extended

We can assume that they know they are the

last people, e.g. because they are aware that radiation effects have

blocked any chance of reproduction.

One considers the last people in

order to rule out the possibility that what these people do harms or
somehow physically interferes with later people.

Otherwise one could as

well consider science fiction cases where people arrive at a new planet
and destroy its ecosystems, whether with good intentions such as perfect­

ing the planet for their ends and making it more fruitful or, forgetting

the lesser traditions, just for the sheer enjoyment of it.
Let us assume that the last people are very numerous.

They humanely

exterminate every wild animal and they eliminate the fish of the seas,

they put all arable land under intensive cultivation, and all remaining
natural forests disappear in favour of pastures or plantations,and so on.
They may give various familiar reasons for this, e.g. they believe it is

the way to salvation or to perfection, or they are simply satisfying

reasonable needs, or even that it is needed to keep the last people
employed or occupied so that they do not worry too much about their
impending extinction.

behaved badly;

of value;

On an environmental ethic the last people have

they have done what is impermissible and destroyed much

for they have simplified and largely destroyed all the natural

ecosystems, and with their demise the world will soon be an ugly and
largely wrecked place.

But this conduct may conform with the core

principles (D) and (A), and as well with the principles enjoined by the
lesser traditions under more obvious construals of these principles.

Indeed the main point of elaborating this extension of the last man

example is because principles (D) and (A) may, as they stand, appear to
conflict with stewardship, cooperation and perfection positions, as the

last man example reveals.

The apparent conflict between these positions

and principle (D) may be definitively removed, it seems, by conjoining a

further proviso to the principle, to the effect (3) that he does not
wilfully destroy natural resources.

But as the last people who are not

vandals do not destroy resources wilfully, but perhaps "for the best of
reasons", the variant is still environmentally inadequate.
2 8 On next page.


(iii) The grreat e^frgpre^gz/r example.

The last man example can be

adjusted so as to not fall foul of clause (3).

The last man is an

he runs a giant complex of automated factories and farms

which he proceeds to extend.

He produces automobiles among other things,

from renewable and recyclable resources of course, only he dumps and
recycles these shortly after manufacture and sale to a dummy buyer instead

of putting them on the road for a short time as we do.

Of course he has

the best of reasons for his activity, e.g. he is increasing gross world

product, or he is improving output to fulfil some plan, and he will be
increasing his own and general welfare since he much prefers increased
output and productivity.

The entrepreneur's behaviour is on the Western

ethic quite permissible;

indeed his conduct is commonly thought to be

quite fine and even meets Pareto optimality requirements given prevailing

notions of being "better off".
It may be objected, however, that there is no reason or warrant for

the great entrepreneur's production and it is simply wasteful.

But we

can easily amend the example by adding consumers who want to use the out­


Just as we can extend the last man example to a class of last

people, so we can extend (iii) to the

sociefz/ example (iv):

the society looks depressingly like ours except for its reproductive
(v) The

example. The blue whale (reduced to a
mixed good on the economic picture )
is on the verge of extinction
because of its qualities as a private good, as a profitable source of oil
and meat.


The catching and marketing of blue whales does not harm the

it does not harm or physically interfere with others in any

good sense, though it may upset them and they may be prepared to compen­
sate the whalers if they desist;


nor need whale hunting be wilful

(Slightly different examples which eliminate the hunting

aspect of the blue whale example are provided by cases where a species

is eliminated or threatened through destruction of its habitat by man's
2 8 There are however elements in the lesser traditions - especially if
'cooperation' and 'perfection' are reconstrued in less chauvinistic
and homocentric terms - which point the way to a more satisfactory


The example is adapted from Barkley and Seckier, op. cit., who nicely
expose the orthodox economic picture.
To make the example more difficult for utilitarians in the tradition
of Bentham, it can be further supposed that the killing of the whalesis
near instantaneous and painless, the whale products are very valuable
to humans and indeed irreplaceable, and that the whales led a good
life while they lived.
(Would the killing of remote groups of humans
under similar conditions be then so much worse?).


activity or the activities of animals he has introduced, e.g. many

plains-dwelling Australian marsupials and the Arabian oryx.)


behaviour of the whalers in eliminating this magnificent species of whale

is accordingly quite permissible - at least according to basic chauvinism.
But on an environmental ethic it is not.

However the free-market

mechanism did not cease allocating whales to commercial uses, as a
satisfactory environmental economics would:

instead the market system

ground inexorably (for the tragedy-of-the-privatised-commons type

reasons well-explained in Barkley and Seckier, op. cit.) along the
private demand curve until the blue whale population was no longer viable.

It has been objected that the operation of the free market is
restrained by ethical principles - or rather legally enforced copies


for example, it would be profitable to exploit child labour,

but moral prohibitions, legally enforced, exclude such exploitation of


But the case is quite different;

children, unlike young

animals such as vealers, are already shielded under the modified dominant
If anything, the "objection" is a further illustration of
chauvinism at work. 30

Although the vanishing species example given does not apply decisively
against extended utilitarianisms, such as that of Bentham, which widen the

base class to all sentient creatures, the case is easily varied so that it

class of tropical plant species

simply select one of the

currently threatened with extinction.

(vi) The fuufory farw example.

On the farm animals of various sorts

are kept under artificial, confined conditions and simply used for the
market goods they deliver, e.g. eggs in the case of battery hens, milk in
the case of rotor cows, veal in the case of calves.

The animals are

subject to whatever conditions (e.g. forced feeding, iron deficient diets,

constant lighting) will deliver maximal quantities of desired goods for
the human commodity market.

The animals do not necessarily suffer pain

(and insofar as they do in behaviourally conspicuous ways the problem can

For the most part the operation of the free market is only constrained
by chauvinistic principles: otherwise enterpreneurs tend to undertake
whatever apparently profitable business activity they can get away with,
including substantial exploitation of animals and widespread environ­
mental destruction, and their lack of concern is illustrated by such
facts as that they are generally prepared to pay taxes (e.g.
compensate other humans) rather than to forgo their activities in
cases such as river and lake pollution and forest removal.
In fact,
of course, fairly unfettered operation of the market tends to
encourage more restricted chauvinisms, e.g. the exploitation of cheap
foreign or female labour in the secondary labour market.


be met by antibiotics), but they are imprisoned under dispreferred

The threatment of the animals on the "farm" is perfectly

permissible according to the core principle (or at least minor adjustments

to exclude unnecessary suffering will ensure conformity), but on an
environmental ethic it is not.

The treatment of the animals on the farm

also seems to conform to the principles of the lesser traditions, insofar

as these principles are spelled out in a way that can be applied to the

example, that is so long as cooperation and perfection are construed in
intended chauvinistic fashion.
(vii) The MiZderness example.

The wilderness, though isolated and

rarely visited or thought about by environmentalists, is known to contain

nothing of use to humans, such as seed or drug supplies, that is not
adequately replicated elsewhere.

It does contain however some "low

quality" forest that could supply pulpwood on a commercial basis were the

local government to provide subsidies on the usual basis.

The logging

would destroy the wilderness in a largely irreversible way (e.g. it grows

on high sand dune country or on lateritic soils)

and kill many animals

which live in the forest.
The prevailing ethic sees nothing wrong
with the destruction of such a wilderness, nor do the lesser traditions:
a deeper environmental ethic does.

Again the example requires variation, e.g. to a wilderness devoid of
sentient individuals, if it is to counter clearly such extensions of
Western ethics as those of animal liberationists.

For this sort of reason

we do not want to overstate or overrate the role of
as distinct from variations upon such examples.

examples -

Firstly, people deeply

committed to human chauvinism - as many, perhaps most, people are - will
find some of the examples unconvincing because they depend on non-

chauvinistic assumptions.

Secondly, there are rejoinders to some of the

examples based on the prevailing ethic.

In this case what we claim is

that there are variations on, and elaborations of the examples which meet

such considerations.

In connection with this we do not want to deny that

there are other strands supplementing the prevailing ethic which are

critical of some activities of the sort described in the examples, e.g.

anti-vandalism principles and strictures against conspicuous consumption

But, as remarked, these principles

as reflected, e.g. in sumptuary laws.

have not been adequately incorporated in the prevailing ethic in such a

way as to meet variations on the examples or to serve environmental


and if the attempt were made to fully incorporate such princi­

ples once again a new ethic would be the upshot.
before the change from an ethic which sanctioned


(Compare the situation


In summary,what the examples show is that core axiological and

deontic assumptions of the Western super-ethic are environmentally

and accordingly Western ethics should be superseded by a

more environmentally adequate ethic.

The class of permissible actions

that rebound on the environment is more narrowly circumscribed on such an

environmental ethic than it is in the Western superethic, and the class
of noninstrumentally valuable objects is correspondingly wider than it is

on the Western super-ethic.
But is not an environmentalist ethic going too far in implying that

these people - those of the examples and respected entrepreneurs and
industrialists and bureaucrats, farmers and fishermen and foresters - are

behaving, when engaging in environmentally degrading activities of the

sort described, in a morally impermissible way?

No, what these people do

is to a greater or lesser extent evil, since destructive of what is

valuable, and hence in serious cases morally impermissible.

For example,

insofar as the killing or forced displacement of primitive peoples who

stand in the way of an industrial development is morally indefensible and

impermissible, so also is the destruction of the forest where the people
may live, or the slaughter of remaining blue whales, or the gross

exploitation of experimental or factory-farm animals for private profit

or as part of the latest 5 year plan.

Those who organise or engage in

such activities are (to a greater or lesser extent, depending on their

mode of engagement) morally culpable.

Models of permissible respected

life styles and of the good life (for others to emulate) depend upon
what the underlying ethic accounts good and evil, permissible or not,
and changes with change of ethic.
A new ethic is needed not merely to accommodate the evaluations,

and so forth;

prescriptions and models indicated, in a way decidedly different from
Western ethics, but in order to cope with a much wider range of more

practical, and often more controversial, cases where Western ethics yield
(without epicycling, i.e. extensive resort to theory-saving strategems)

unacceptable or inadequately grounded results.

An alternative ethic is

also needed by a growing number of valuers because they have values,
interests and new concerns of ecological sorts which do not fit in with,
but conflict with, central features of prevailing Western ethics.


is occurring, it seems, a far-reaching cultural, and ethical change, a
change in consciousness, and in particular a change in attitudes to what

is natural and the natural environment (a change which may eventually be
as fundamental as, and partly overturn, the humanist changes of the


A new ethic is accordingly needed to reflect and formul­

ate, and enable the defence and application of, a new, increasingly fel,t,


but not so far well-articulated system of values, in much the same way
that a system of probability was needed and formulated to articulate and

systematise likelihood and probability principles, and relevant logic
systems required to capture pre-analytic views of entailment.


explication of environmental ethics is a similar theoretical concern;
again, as commonly, theory lags behind the facts of change and the felt

Furthermore, just as entailment systems are not uniquely determined,

or desired or accepted by every thinker, so enoironwontuZ gt/zios will not
be nnip^otp detorwZng<i, or adopted by every valuer.

On the contrary, as

is plain enough, their adaption and furtherance will be vigorously

resisted by many vested interests, as - to take just one instance - the
furtherance of programmes for the determination of environmental sources
of cancer is vigorously opposed by industrial chemical companies.

The matter of persuading other valuers to accept values and
principles of a new ethic is of course a further and somewhat separate

issue from the question of need for such an ethic.

The procedures for

trying to effect changes in values are but variations on the usual pro­
cedures, and like them are not fully effective:

excluding coercion and

education, they include, for example, argumentation, and propaganda, in

each case of many sorts. 31

As usual, too, where there is a broad common
basis, especially in felt evaluations and emotional presentation,

effecting a change, or a conversion, will generally be an easier task.
In the case of transformation to environmental values, what is often
important are distinctive features regarding the factual bases of many of

the evaluations.

In particular, there is the matter of removing or
/Tztsoonooptions on a broad range of matters of

Some of these sorts are considered in more detail in (c) J. Passmore,
'Ecological problems and persuasion' in FpnoZZtp arid Freedom.
JntornutZonoZ and Comparattvo c/nr-Zoprz/donoo (ed. G. Dorsey), Oceana
Publications, New York, 1977, pp.431-42.
The apposite term 'emotional presentation' is adapted from Meinong;
see especially
FwotZonaZ Prosentatton (trans. M.L. Schubert-Kalsi),
Northwestern University Press, 1972. The notion of emotional present­
ation can play an important role in the explanation of how emotions
enter into (environmental) evaluations, the objects evaluated (canyons,
mountains, giant trees) often being emotionally presented. A little
more precisely, the connections are these: A value ranking (e.g. c is
better, more valuable, than d) of a valuer is explained emotionally
through - it does not reduce to - certain preference rankings of the
and the preference rankings have in turn dual factual and
emotional bases, in the same sort of way that an item may be preferred
or chosen in virtue of its factual features and the valuer's emotional
responses to those. The main details of such a semantical analysis of
value, which is discussed in §5, are given in Routley (c).


environmental concern;

for example, about animals, their various

behaviour, abilities, etc;

about the alleged gulf between humans and

other animals and the uniqueness of humans and each human;

about the

profitability, or desirability, or necessity, of environmentally destruct­

ive enterprises;

about the inevitability of current Western social

arrangements and about the history of the way these particular arrange­
ments developed. There is, moreover, the matter of sheer information,
for example as to how free animals live together and what they do;


how factory and experimental animals are treated, and in the latter case
for what:

about the sources and effects of various forms of pollution

and the reasons for it;

about how natural creatures such as whales or

environments such as forests are commonly dealt with, for what products,
by what interests, for what ends.

Naturally (given a fact/value division)

none of this information is entirely conclusive support for a change in

for many of the evaluations the data helps support can be included

in other ethics (including sometimes modifications of prevailing ethics),
while remaining evaluations can, at worst, be simply rejected (as e.g.,

those utilitarians who extend consideration just to sentient creatures are

obliged to reject versions of the last man argument where no sentient
creatures are affected).
Although a new ethic is needed, for the reasons indicated, and

although such an ethic can,furthermore, be a considerable asset in
practical environmental argument (e.g., as to the point of trying to
retain a piece of not-especially-unique near-wilderness),
for many
practical ecological purposes, there is no need to apply it or to fall

back on it.

For example, virtually the whole environmental issue of

destructive forestry in Australia can be argued without invoking any
unconventional ethical principles or values at all, i.e. entirely within

the prevailing chauvinistic framework.
wap??/ environmental disputes.

The same sort of point applies to

But, it by no means applies to all.


corollary is an inadequacy in the presentation of environmental problems
and suggested solutions in standard (human) ecology texts


A. Erlich's

(such as P. and

Freeman, San Francisco, 1970, to select one example), which are set
erzf-freZz/ within the chauvinistic framework.^4

Also, differently, in the way that theories are in enabling one to see
how to move and argue in a discussion.

Quite properly given prevailing sentiments, according to some erring
conservationists, who account themselves "realists".

Since it is sometimes charged - despite all that has been said - that

an environmental ethic does not differ in practice from that of more

conventional "chauvinistic" ethics, there is point in spelling out in
yet other ways how it can differ in practice:

Firstly, many conventional

positions, in particular social contract and sympathy theories, cannot
take proper account of moral obligation to future humans (who are not in
the immediate future).

Since the usual attempt to argue, in terms of

value and benefit to humans, that natural areas



generally should not be destroyed or degraded depends critically on

introducing possible future humans who will suffer or be worse off as a

result of its destruction or degradation, it is plain that an environ­
mental ethic will differ radically from such conventional positions. That
is, the usual argument depends on the reduction of value of a natural
item to the interests of present and /Izf^re humans, in which reduction

future humans must play a critical role if conclusions not blatantly
opposed to conservation are to be reached.

Hence there will usually be

a very great gulf between the practical value judgements of conservation

ethics and those of conventional positions which discount the (nonimmediate) future.
Secondly, as we have already seen through examples, there are
practical differences between an environmental ethic and conventional

instrumental views which dr take account of the interests of past,

present and future humans, differences which emerge sharply at the
It is, however, unnecessary to

hypothetical (possible world) level.

turn to possible world examples to see that normally there would be very
great differences in the practical valuations and behaviour of those who

believe that natural items can have value and create obligations not
reducible (in any way) to human interests and those who do not, as the
following further examples show.

We need only consider the operation of irtersioraZ- corcepfs

Example 1.


uctz^^Z- zjerZ-d, for example, the concept of duwupe to a natural

item, and the associated notion of campezzsaffrr for that damage.

C. Stone, for instance, in S/za^Zd Trees #are Sfardirp?
Tdp^fs /dr /Vaf^raZ. dhj^efs


Tabards L^pcZ

(Avon Books, New York, 1975) notes the

practical legal differences between taking the damage to a polluted river

as affecting its intrinsic value, and taking it as just affecting human
river users.

In the one case one will see adequate compensation as

restoring the original state of the river (rectifying the wrong to the

river) and in the other as compensating those present (or future) humans
who will suffer from its pollution.

As Stone points out, the sum


adequate to compensate the latter may well be much less than that
required to restore the river to its unpolluted state, thus making it
economic, and in terms of the human chauvinist theory, fair and reason­

able, to compensate those damaged and continue pollution of the river.
In the first case, of course, adequate compensation or restoration for

the harm done would have to consist in restoring the river to its
unpolluted condition and will not just be paid to the people affected.

Compare here Stone's example of compensation for injury to a Greek slave;

in the instrumentalist case this will involve compensating the slave's
owner for the loss of his slave's working time;

in the other, where the

slave is regarded as not merely an instrument for his owner, it will

compensate the sZaue not the ozjyzer, for this compensation will also take
account of the pain and suffering of the slave, even where this has not
affected his working ability.

There is a difference not only in the

amount of compensation, but to zj/zow it is directed.

In the case of a

natural item damage may be compensated by payment to a trust set up to

protect and restore it.
The believer in intrinsic values may avoid making unnecessary
and excessive noise in the forest, out of respect for the forest and its

Example 2.

nonhuman inhabitants.

She will do this even when it is certain that

there is no other human around to know the difference.

For one to whom

the forest and its inhabitants are merely another conventional utility,
however, there will be no such constraint.

He may avoid unnecessary noise

if he thinks it will disturb other humans, but if he is certain none are

about to hear him he will feel at liberty to make as much and as loud a
noise as he chooses, and this will affect his behaviour.

Examples like

this cannot be dealt with by the introduction of future humans, since

they will be unable to hear the noise in question.

To claim that the

making of noise in such circumstances is a matter of no importance, and
therefore there is no important difference in behaviour, is of course to

assess the matter through human chauvinist eyes.

From the intrinsic viewpoint it

So such a claim is

make a

difference, and be reflected in practical behavioural difference.
Example 3.

Consider an aboriginal tribe which holds a particular place

to be sacred, and where this sanctity and intrinsic valuableness and

beauty is celebrated by a number of beautiful cave paintings.

A typically

"progressive" instrumentalist Western view would hold the cave (and

perhaps place) to be worth preservation because of its value to the

aboriginal people, and because of the artistic merit of the human arti­
facts, the cave paintings the cave contained.


To the "enlightened"

Westerner, if the tribe should cease to exist, and the paintings be

destroyed, it would be permissible to destroy the place if this should
be in what is judged to be the best interests of human kind, e.g. to get

at the uranium underneath.
To the aboriginal the human artifacts, the
cave paintings would be irrelevant, a celebration of the value of the
place, but certainly not a surrogate for it, and the obligation to the
place would not die because the tribe disappeared or declined.


no ordinary sum of money would be able to compensate for the loss of

such a place, in the way that it might for something conceived of as a
utility or convenience, as having value only because of the benefits it
confers on the "users" of it.
There is an enormous /gZt or

difference between feeling that

a place should be valued or respected for itself, for its perceived

beauty and character, and feeling that it should not be defaced because
it is valued by one's fellow humans, and provides pleasurable sensations
or money or convenience for them.
Compare too the differences between
feeling that a yellow robin, say, is a fellow creature in many ways akin

to oneself, and feeling that it is a nice little yellow and grey, basically
clockwork, aesthetic object.
These differences in emotional presentation
are accompanied by or expressed by an enormous range of behavioural
differences, of which the examples given represent only a very small
The sort of behaviour uurrarzteti by each viewpoint and thought
by it, the concept of what one is free to do, for example, will
normally be very different. It is certainly no coincidence that cultures

holding to the intrinsic view have normally been far less destructive of

nature than the dominant Western human chauvinist culture.
In summary, the claim that there is no reaZ practical difference,
that the intrinsic value viewpoint is empty verbalisation, does not stand

up to examination.
The capacity - no doubt exaggerated, but nonetheless far from

negligible - of Western industrial societies to solve their ecological
problems (at least to their own pathetically low standards) within a
chauvinistic framework, does considerably complicate, and obstruct, an

alternative more practical argument to the need for a new ethic, t/ze

arpMwezzt yrcm


that in no other way ...

[than] prepared[ness] to accept a

"new ethic", as distinct even from adding one or two new moral
principles to an accepted common ... can modern industrial
societies solve their ecological problems.
On next page.


Not only does the argument encounter various objections - most obviously
that many of the problems can be solved, if not within Western ethics, in
immediate extensions of them - but the case suggested would hardly be a

satisfactory basis for the type of ethic sought.

It is not so much that

it would be a chauvinistic way of arriving at a supposedly nonchauvinistic
ethic, for bad procedures can lead to good results;

rather it is that

important ecological problems, shaping environmental ethics, such as

preservation of substantial tracts of wilderness and just treatment of

animals, tend to be written off in industrial societies as not serious

But even if the argument suggested has too narrow a problem

base, and so may yield too limited a change in attitudes as compared with
the main theoretical argument, the argument merits fuller formulation and

further investigation.

The argument to need for ethical revision is as


A satisfactory solution to environmental problems (of modern
industrial societies) implies (the adoption of) an alternative


environmental ethic.
A satisfactory solution to environmental problems is needed.
Therefore, an alternative environmental ethic is needed.

The argument is valid, given, what seems correct, that pimplies q implies

that p is needed implies that q is needed.

The second premiss is or can

be made analytic, on the sense of 'satisfactory'
'satisfactory' imply 'needed');

(e.g. by having

so the case is complete if the first

premiss can be established (in the same sense of 'satisfactory'), and the

conclusion is then plausible to at least the extent the premiss is.
though the first premiss, or something like it, is widely endorsed,
3 5 Passmore (c) op. cit., p.438.

According to Passmore (p.431),

By common consent, there are four major
pollution, the exhaustion of resources,
species, and overpopulation ...
To solve such problems involves finding
types of human conduct or of preventing
having its present consequences.

ecological problems:
the destruction of

a way either of altering
that human conduct from

In what follows the assumption that 'there are four major ecological
problems' gets rejected.
36 Here and elsewhere, 'environmental'
less interchangeably.

and 'ecological' are used more or

37 Even Passmore, though previously (e.g. in (a)) highly critical of
proposals for new ethics, gives qualified endorsement to an assumption
of this sort ((c), p.441).
... I do not doubt, all the same, that our attitudes to nature
stand badly in need of revision and that, as they stand, they form
a major obstacle to the solution of ecological problems.


arguments for it are few and it is no simple matter rendering the
premiss plausible.

Moreover rendering it plausible involves a substant­

ial detour through social theory;

for the case for the premiss proceeds

along these sorts of lines:

Unless there are (certain) major changes in socio-economic structure,
environmental problems will not be satisfactorily solved.


The major changes in socio-economic structure involve

an alternative


A much stronger thesis than (3) has been argued for using systems analysis,

namely that without very extensive socio-economic changes, modern
industrial society will collapse;

but several of the assumptions made

in the analysis are doubtful or disputed.
independently of that stronger thesis;

But (3) has been argued

for example, it will follow from

the thesis (of Falk, Commoner and others)

'that the modern industrial
ethic as we have known it is not sustainable on ecological grounds'. 39
In a sense,

(3) is obvious;

for it is present socio-economic arrangements

that have produced many of the present serious environmental problems;

without major changes in those arrangements most of the problems will

persist or, more likely, intensify.

What is not immediately evident is

that the major changes called for, in satisfying (3), suffice for (4).

However reflection on the specific 'types of changes required - for example
at a superficial level, human population limitation, reduction of poll­

ution, more sensible resource usage, selective economic growth - reveals
that significant changes in value, and also in what is considered
permissible, are bound to be involved in the changes.

plausible, and

therewith the intended conclusion.

So (4) is decidedly

But the argument

leaves the detailed character of the needed alternative ethic rather


and it may well be that the ethic so yielded is somewhat

chauvinistic in character.

The more practical argument cannot entirely

supplant the main theoretical argument.
In sum, there are good and pressing reasons to investigate the

alternatives to chauvinistic ethics, especially human chauvinism, because

such chauvinistic ethics are discriminatory, because the case for them

See, in particular, D. Meadows and others, T/ze Limits fa GrgzjfZz,
Potomac Associates, Washington, D.C., 1972.

R.A. Falk, 'Anarchism and world order', FVozncs IX, 1978, p.66.
refers for the case to B.Commoner, TTze CZrsizzy Circle, Knopf, New York,
R.A. Falk,
PZuzzef, Random House, New York. 1971;
E. Goldsmith and others
/or SMrrfzJuZ, Houghton and Miflin,
Boston, 1972, and Meadows of uZ-., op. cit.


does not stand up to examination, and because they have been involved in
the destruction of much of value and now threaten the viability of much

that is valuable.


The basic-and basically mistaken-doctrine of the Western super-ethic

is, as we have seen, that people, humans of whatever shape or form, are
the fundamental carriers or objects of value and that all other items are

valuable only in an instrumental or derivative way.

It is important, in­

deed mandatory in a genuine environmental ethic, to reject this view and
allow natural items to have a value in their own right, iz? t/ze same /as/ziazz

as CzzaZzza^Ze? peapZe, both for the reasons outlined above, of the theoret­
ical unsatisfactoriness and arbitrariness of the traditional view, and for
more practical reasons, namely, to help ensure the ecological sustain­

ability of modern society, and in optimising human welfare.
It has often
been pointed out that 'a totally humanised world would diminish us as
human beings',
that the traditional view of humans, or classes of humans,

as dominant, and of natural items as without value except where they serve
human or class interests-a view that often carries contempt for nature leads not only to the destruction of much that is of value but (paradoxic­
ally) to counterproductive results even with respect to human welfare.

Thus McHarg (in attractively coloured rhetoric):-

Show me a man-oriented society inwhich it is believed that reality
exists only because man can perceive it, that the cosmos is a struct­
ure erected to support man on its pinnacle, that man exclusively is

divine and given dominion over all things, indeed that God is made in
the image of man, and I will predict the nature of its cities and
their landscape.

I need not look far for we have seen them-the hot­

dog stands, the neon shill, the ticky-tacky houses, dysgenic city and

mined landscapes.

centric man;

This is the image of the anthropomorphic, anthropo­

he seeks not unity with nature but conquest (op. cit.).

The rejection of this view and its replacement by a view in which

natural items can be regarded as of value and as worthy of our respect for

themselves and not merely for what we can get out of them or what use we
40 See e.g. the discussion at pp.116-17 of (a) J. Rodman, 'The Liberation
of nature', IzzgMfrz/, 20 (1977) 83-145. All subsequent references to
Rodman's work without further indication are to this article.
Note well that the rejection of human chauvinism does z?ot imply that no
chauvinistic arguments - or rather, arguments that are usually stated
in chauvinistic form - carry weight. On the contrary, some chauvinistic
arguments (e.g. those supporting wilderness retention and species
preservation) carry considerable weight; and, since the prevailing
industrial ethics remain chauvinistic, environmentalists would be rash
not to use them.


can make of them, is becoming increasingly widespread in parts of the

environmental movement.

It is this primarily that makes for an important

ideological split in the conservation movement, between what Naess (op.

cit.) called

and Teep ecology, between those who see conservation

as just a matter of wiser, better-controlled topper-term exploitation of
the environment - something which is compatible with denying value to
everything except man ' and those who see it at least in part as involving

a recognition of value for natural items independent of man, and hence as
involving (at least to some extent) a Ttf^erept uttitp(7e to Mature.


first view, the long-term or erttpbteped e^ptoitatior view, which is
closely tied to prevailing more enlightened economic assumptions, tends to
make heavy use of the watershed term 'resource';

the problem of conserv­

ation is seen as one of 'zjfse pse of resources', a resource being something
of use to humans or persons.

On this view, which does not get beyond the

confines of human chauvinism, and so is no direction for a satisfactory
environmental ethic to take, items which have no perceivable use to man,

i.e. non-resources, can be destroyed without loss;

and the environmental

problem is viewed as largely one of making people aware of the extent to
which natural items and processes have frstr^meptut value, i.e. of how

far we are dependent on them and they are of pse to us.

There is no

recognition either that some items might be valuable precisely because

they are independent of man.
Resource Conservation, or the shallow position, is the first of the
four ideal types that Rodman
discerns in his investigation of the
contemporary environmental movement.

The deeper ecological position gets

split under Rodman's division into three ideological positions - though
Rodman prefers to put the matter in symbolic or experiential terms, in

terms of forms of consciousness - namely Wilderness Preservation, Nature
Moralism, and Ecological Resistance.

Though the positions discerned are

neither characterised in an exclusive fashion, nor exhaustive of ecological
positions, and though we shall have to look beyond all the positions for a

satisfactory environmental ethic, nonetheless they afford an excellent
perspective on the main types of alternative positions that have been
adopted by those within environmental movements.

It is not uncommon to encounter attempts to write the shallow position
into the very meaning or definition of copseraotiop, e.g. 'conservation
is the use of resources to the greatest advantage of man', 4 Sprrep of
/Ipstrotfap Forestry and tVood-Fused Ipd^strfes.
Part PT. Prodpcttop
Forestry Peretopmept PZup.
Draft (31 October, 1974), p.ll - a
blatantly chauvinistic account.
On next page.


According to (Wilderness) Preservation, which focusses on
wilderness, wilderness is to be preserved for the wilderness experience,

wilderness offers a natural cathedral,

a sacred place where human beings can transcend the limitations
of everyday experience and become renewed through contact with
the power of creation ((b), p.49).
The values discerned in wilderness and natural landscape are primarily

aesthetic and quasi-religious, or mystical,

'the experience of the holy

is esthetically mediated'; what is valuable remains human experiences.

Thus the Wilderness Preservation position does not move outside the
sphere of human chauvinism, and can no more than Resource Conservation
offer a frame for an environmental ethic.

Rodman reaches a similar

Resource Conservation and Wilderness Preservation appear

variations on the theme of wise use, the former oriented to the
[efficient] production of commodities for human consumption, the

latter to providing human amenities ((b), p.50).
For this reason, the Wilderness Preservation position fails even on the

score of justifying the preservation of wilderness - on the very task it

was designed to accomplish - in a range of circumstances.

Like other

See especially (b) J. Rodman, 'Theory and practice in the environmental
movement: notes towards an ecology of experience', in
Search /or
i?? a
^orZ-d^ International Cultural Foundation,
New York, 1978, pp.45-56. Some of the types are portrayed in greater
detail in other Rodman papers.
The remainder of this largely new section on environmental ethical
alternatives is heavily indebted, in ways the references mostly make
plain, to Rodman's work. His work covers a vast range of interlinked
topics; only those of immediate relevance have been touched upon.
But there is very much in the remainder that repays careful reading,
and TnMc/z to think about and to question or reject, reaching perhaps
its lowest point in the paradoxical themes:

Just as our statements about other people tend also to be
concealed statements about ourselves, so statements about non­
human nature tend to be concealed statements about the human
condition, and movements to liberate nonhuman nature tend also
to be movements to liberate the repressed potentials of human
nature (p.105).

In part because these themes and the related myth of microcosm are
taken seriously, and not for the evident falsehoods they are, in part
because the ethical adequacy of the human/nonhuman distinction is
never seriously questioned (e.g. it is taken for granted, what is not
the case, that rights apply to humans and are problematic beyond them),
and in part because of the characteristically chauvinistic emphasis on
human experience and the endeavour to bring everything within that
experiential purvue, and the associated weight assigned to human
symbolic, mythic and ritual activities, one is left with the feeling,
at the end of all the investigations one can profitably follow Rodman
through, that one has not got beyond the confines of human chauvinism.


instrumentalist accounts of wilderness value, it breaks down entirely
With examples like the Last Man, assuming that Mr. Last Man is never

turned on by natural spendour.

More alarmingly, under readily conceivable

developments, it would allow the elimination of wilderness entirely.


consider the Wilderness Experience Machine, a low-impact low-tech
philosophical machine, recently patented by I.M. Diabolic, which can

duplicate entirely, even for groups of people, wilderness experiences,
but in a downtown room.

As far as the psychological experience goes, this

machine can provide a complete substitute for any actual wilderness, and
were the value of wilderness to reside in the experience it afforded,

could entirely replace it and eliminate the alleged need for it.
Most environmentalists would be (rightly) dissatisfied with, not to
say appalled by, the idea that Wilderness Experience Machines could sub­

stitute for wildernesses, since they provided the same experiences.

what else they wanted, the answer would of course be:


Wildernesses, not

merely wilderness experiences.

Wildernesses are valuable in their own
right, over and above the experiences they can afford. 4 3 Really, that is,

they consider wildernesses intrinsically valuable, but have been pushed

by the prevailing ethical ethics into stating, and misrepresenting, their
position in experiential terms.

There is some independent evidence that

the Wilderness Preservation position is frequently a disguised intrinsic

value position, in the attitude taken to examples like the Last Man case,
that purely hypothetical experiencers (who may vanish into counterfactuals)

are good enough, and that in some real-life cases it is enough that

wilderness is there to be contemplated, whether or not anyone actually
takes advantage of its presence to gain experiences, or indeed whether or

not it is in fact contemplated.

Such examples remove the disguise and

reveal the position as at bottom an intrinsic value position.

In that

event it is however better to avoid the disguise; for the case for wilder­
ness preservation which starts from the position that some wilderness

tracts have intrinsic as well as merely instrumental value is substantially
stronger than any position which assigns them merely instrumental value.
Wilderness lovers and nature conservationists have in fact worked out
- or concocted - a set of arguments to show why wildernesses and nature

conservation are of benefit to humans, to argue for their instrumental
The concept of
too can vary with the operative ideology,
e.g. on certain views, such as Wilderness Preservation, wilderness
comprises areas that are
(or provide the opportunity for use), e.g.
used for experiential enrichment. By contrast, on a genuine Environ­
mental Resistance view, wilderness is a wild area, use of which is not
it may never be used, and it may not matter that it affords
no opportunity for (human) use.
(Under popular high redefinition of
'wilderness', there are of course no wildernesses remaining on the
earth, and wilderness vanishes as soon as humanly experienced.)



For example, there are various arguments from the scientific

value, or usefulness, of wilderness, e.g. for the study of natural eco­

systems, for the investigation of plant history and evolution, as a
repository of genetic diversity, etc.

These arguments, which (like

parallel arguments for species preservation) are not to be
especially as regards persuasive force, can be put in nonchauvinistic


for science and knowledge are not linked essentially with, for

example, the feature of being human.

Often however - e.g. where the

wilderness defended has, so far as it is known, little that is very

special to offer - such arguments appear to be merely a conventional front
for the real (or deeper) reasons - and in seme instances, correspondingly
weak and unpersuasive (as Fraser Darling has remarked, and Passmore has
tried to show in (a)) - the real reasons being based on the perception of

nonuseful properties of value.

This is particularly marked in the case

of arguments for preserving the most complex and beautiful of the world's

plant communities, tropical rainforest.

Such arguments as that various

uninvestigated rainforest trees may at some time be found to contain
useful drugs, by no means exhaust the true value of the rainforest.

For it

is in the intrinsic, i.e. noninstrumental, value of the rainforest that

the main reason for not unduly interfering with it, e.g. not interfering
in ways that threaten its stability or viability, lies.

In particular,

destruction of a wilderness, such as a rainforest, would significantly

diminish intrinsic value, and so should (in general) be resisted.
Environmentalists who are aware of these sorts of problems and
dangers with resource use approaches to wilderness preservation sometimes

attempt to formulate their alternative view in terms of one of the lesser
traditions, most popularly in terms of the

image, in

which man is seen as the steward of the earth - an analogy which, as
Passmore points out (in (a)), is problematic outside a religious context.

For who is man steward to?

If not to God, then how is the analogy to be

unpacked, and what conditions must "stewardship" conform to?

If "good

stewardship" is management in the interests of humans, or humanity, then

the position does not go beyond Resource Conservation;
if it is manage4
ment to serve intrinsic values, or God,
then good stewardship is but a
cover for the recognition of intrinsic values, which are better introduced

Thus admitting values which are not instrumental, which do not
answer back in some way to states or conditions of humans is a feature of

all satisfactory deeper ecological alternatives.

In order to allow for

such intrinsic values and/or associated attitudes of respect, e.g. for
On some interpretations;

on others theism may serve to reinforce human

nature and various

natural things, it is however unnecessary to adopt a

religious backdrop such as the "Good Stewardship" image suggests, or even

a semi-religious framework such as a mystical or superstitious one with
taboos and sacred places as symbolic and ritual elements.

A theory of

intrinsic value which assigns intrinsic value to wilderness and species

of free animals, for good reasons, can be entirely naturalistic (in a
main sense of that much-abused term).
The third, somewhat amorphous, cluster of positions Rodman describes,

value to natural items, such as - on some versions of the position wilderness.
Nature Moralisms, do just that, assign intrinsic, f/zat

[An] alternative perspective ...

[to] the theme of wise use 4 5 ...

is provided by the tradition growing out of the humane movement,

recently radicalised by animal liberationists, and sometimes

generalised to embrace non-animal beings as well.

In contrast

to the economic ethos of Resource Conservation and the religious/
esthetic character of Wilderness Preservation, this perspective is
strikingly moral in style.

Its notion of human virtue is not

prudence or reverence, but justice.

In contrast to the caste­

bound universe of the Resource Conservationist, the Natural
Moralist affirms the democratic principle that all natural entities

(or, more narrowly, all forms of life) have intrinsic value, and
that wild animals, plants, rivers, and whole ecosystems have a

right to exist, flourish and reproduce - or at least that human
beings have no right to exploit or unnecessarily harm or destroy

other members of the biotic community.

In contrast to the aristo­

cratic universe of Wilderness Preservation, where some places (and

some forms of recreation) are holier than others and certain types
of natural entities ... are traditionally more worthy of being
saved than others ..., the world of the Nature Moralist is

characterised by an apparent egalitarianism ((b), p.50^ my

Each of the sweep of environmental alternatives indicated can be seen as
of conventional Western ethics: intrinsic value is extended
uniformly to all animals or certain favoured features of all these, e.g.
their experience, happiness, avoidance of suffering, or is extended to all

living creatures or systems, or is extended to all natural items or even
to objects - it may or may
be distributed uniformly or equally;
Human use and human experience, it might be added.


rather independently, rights may be ceded to all animals, or to some or
all living things, or to all things, or, alternatively and differently,

right-holders' rights with respect to some or other of these classes are


and similarly other deontic notions, justice, obligation,

even perhaps duty, may extend to apply to larger classes of items than all
humans or persons.

The sweep, which is impressive, is intended to include both extended

utilitarianisms, e.g. Bentham's utilitarianism as revamped by Singer
according to which all sentient creatures are entitled to equal consider­
ation of interest, and extended (legal) rights doctrines, e.g. the

assignment of rights or legal standing to all natural objects as suggested
by, for instance, also includes Darwin's ethic and Leopold's
"land ethic". 4 7 In order to capture some of the intended examples of
Nature Moralists, and all the Moral Extension positions, Rodman's

characterisation requires some adjustment - which will be taken for

granted in what follows.

For example, Singer and other animal liberation-

ists do not assign intrinsic value to all forms of life, or even to all

but (as Rodman is well aware) to all sentient creatures;


is, further classifications have to be taken into account.

The egalitarian, or uniformity, assumptions that serve in character­
ising Natural Moralism are mistaken.

Not all objects are of equal value;

some are more valuable then others, while some have little or no value
(and some have a negative value).

Impressive though the sweep of extensions is, all the positions
indicated should be rejected on one ground or another, and sometimes on

several grounds.

Against positions which do not extend the class of

objects of moral concern and candidates for value to include all objects,
variants of the counterexamples to the Western super-ethic can be

Consider, for instance, the positions (of usual animal liber-

ationists) which extend the moral boundaries just to include sentient

creatures (or e.g. preference-havers).

Adapt the Last Man and Last

People examples, the Wilderness example, etc., by removing all

(inessential) animals from the examples, e.g. the wilderness contains no
animals, in the Last People situation there are no other animals than the
46 p. singer,
Random House, New York, 1975;

C. Stone, op. cit.

47 at least on a straightforward reading of Leopold's eventual position:
but not according to Rodman;
see his contrast of Leopold with Stone,
Darwin's ethic, which anticipates Leopold's, is presented in
C. Darwin,
Second edition, J. Murray, London, 1883.

48 On next page.

last people themselves. Then the counterexamples apply as before
against the liberation positions.
It is unnecessary to go quite so far afield to fault such positions,
at least in practice:
facts of experience:

as.Rodman might put it, they are countered by the

... I need only to stand in the midst of a clear-cut forest, a

strip-mined hillside, a defoliated jungle, or a dammed canyon
to feel uneasy with assumptions that could yield the conclusion

that no human action can make any difference to the welfare of
anything but sentient animals (p.89).
But an advantage of the counterexamples is that the same examples, among
many others (e.g. situations devoid of sentient creatures, situations
where the message of experience conflicts with justice or fairness),
reveals the erroneousness of the well-sponsored thesis, a simple analogue
of empiricism, that all value 49 derives from experience (of experiential,

or sentient, objects). A corollary is that value is not to be assessed
either, in any simple way, in terms of the facts of experience.
Insofar as Nature Moralism relies upon simple extensions of
utilitarianisms, or of subjectivisms, to include a larger class of

(a larger base class), such as all present sentient creatures,

or all preference-havers at any one

etc., it is open not merely to

adaptations of the argument against chauvinism (animal chauvinism is not
that much more satisfactory than human chauvinism), but most of the
Nor, on Moral Extensions, need all objects that have rights have equal
Rights may not be very democratically distributed. Some things
have rights, e.g. as a result of agreements, of a sort others do not
hold or are not capable of holding. Even rights to exist, to flourish
and to reproduce (each case is different) are in much doubt where there
is scarcity or conflict and where some right holders are taken to be
worth much more than others.
Nor are such leading examplars of Natural
Moralism as Singer and Stone, though they are concerned to extend
principles of justice, committed to equality of rights assumptions.
Stone explicitly rejects equal distribution of rights; but the
principle that all natural objects are equal in having rights, which
really says no more than that they all have rights, is at best a very
weak egalitarian principle.
Singer offers (and presumably would offer)
no equality of rights principle, rejects an equality of treatment
principle, and proposes as a principle of equality a (near vacuous)
principle of equal consideration of interests.

Not, this time, knowledge. But amusingly "value empiricism" collapses
into empiricism proper given the Socratic identification: Value
(generalising Virtue) is knowledge.
The only natural stopping point under value empiricism is, of course,
with all creatures that have (or could have) the relevant experiences:
again not with humans.



objections to utilitarians,




versions of Nature Moralism may than be defeated on rather conventional
There emerges, further, a dilemma for extensions.

Either the crucial

notions of right and intrinsic value are extended to all sentient

creatures (experience-havers), in which case the objections just lodged
apply, or they are extended more sweepingly, e.g. to all natural objects.
But the latter involves attributing to such items attributes they do not

have, most obviously rights to such objects as stones;

it also violates

the conditions that have to be met for the holding of rights and for the
entitlement of rights.

Thus, for example, Stone considers underpinning

his extension of rights, beyond sentient creatures in the ordinary sense -

or of legal rights beyond recognised "legal persons" - by a postulate of
universal sentience or consciousness;
in short, by an unacceptable

metaphysics, or myth.
There are several further objections which work against many versions

of Natural Moralism to which Rodman draws attention:

Moral Extensions are 'inadequate to articulate the intention that

sustains the [environmental] movement'

wilderness preservation movements.

(p.88), specifically wilderness and

It takes but little argument to show

that utilitarian ethics, such as Singer's, so far from assisting the
environmental movement, can (if adopted) reinforce the case
wilderness and preservation of wild species.

But an extension like

Stone's extension of legal rights can help, and has helped, at least in
the courts where its meta-physical underpining is unlikely to be glimpsed.
The basic point is however that the rights talk does not connect with, and is
insensitive to, the experiential basis.

Mere extensions of moral notions

such as interest or right or justice are insufficient to treat and do just­

ice to the multi-dimensional depth of environmental issues, such as the

damming of a river (p.115). Part of the reason is said to be that the usual
moral aparatus, which was evolved in the case of certain person-to-person
See Rodman's discussion, pp.92-3. But Rodman overstates his case in
claiming that 'some such postulate as universal consciousness is there­
fore necessary if the notion of rights for trees is not to seem a
rootless fancy'. For, as explained below, extended rights can be
defined by a rather "natural extension" of the familiar notion of right,
without any such postulate;
and grounds of entitlement can be traced
back to value of the items.
Certainly extended rights sever what linkage there may have been between
rights and liabilities, but with the modern separations of rights from
responsibilities that linkage was already damaged or broken.


relations, is inadequate for getting to grips with a new dimension of

moral experience, that concerned with environment, and inadequate to
reflect ecological sensibility.

Rodman tries to press, however, a much

stronger, and rather more dubious, theme, the SsZZ-onf thesis:

By adapting the moral/legal theory of 'rights',

[the movement] may

sell its soul, its roots in mythic and ritual experience, to get

easier judicial standing (p.88);
and more savagely,
the progressive extension


of ethics, while holding out the

promise of transcending the homocentric perspective of modern
culture, subtly fulfills and legitimates the basic project of
modernity - the total conquest of nature by man (p.97, also

While neither of these large claims is strictly true - soul-selling is
simply avoided through adoption of the notion of extended-right, which
can yield a conservative extension of the original position;

and even

utilitarians may be committed to blocking projects which threaten free

animals - each has a substantial point.

Part of the point behind the

latter claim is worth developing separately:(2)

Moral Extensions typically cast natural objects, notably animals, in

the role of inferior humans,

'legal incompetents', imbeciles, human

vegetables, and the like.

are ... degraded by our failure to respect them for having

their own existence, their own character and potentialities,
their own forms of excellence, their own integrity,

a degradation usually reflected in our reduction of 'them to the status of

instruments for our own ends', and not removed 'by "giving" them rights, by
assigning them to the status of inferior human beings'


Many of us know where the treatment of natural objects as mere means

The mistaken treatment of them

for human ends tends to lead and has led.

as inferior humans, a treatment which fails to see and 'respect the

otherness of nonhuman forms of life', leads in the same direction.


given that animals, for example, are inferior, it is legitimate to treat

them also as inferior;

a greater value principle, which moral extensions

typically endorse, yields a similar result.

The needs of increasing

populations of superior humans will eventually outweigh, if they do not

do so already, the cases of inferior inhabitants of this finite earth for
the retention of their natural habitats.


For their rights and their

In the larger perspective, the Moral

values will be less than "ours".

Extensions, with their built-in greater value assumptions, do legitimate
the conquest of nature by humans.

Thus too they fail seriously, on what

will soon enough be quite practical grounds, as satisfactory environmental

The extensions, like the parent ethics which they extend, are

narrowly individualistic, and insufficiently holistic. This is particularly

conspicuous in the case of utilitarianisms, which in principle arrive at
all assessments by some sort of calculations, e.g. summations and perhaps
averaging, from an initially given unit conforming to requisite equality
conditions, e.g. equal consideration, equal units of suffering.


practice of course the method is, almost invariably, to pretend that the
calculations will yield results which agree with alternatively and
previously arrived at, usually intuitive, often prejudiced, evaluations;

that is, in practice the method is not applied except in a handwaving
back-up fashion.

The method is not applied in part because there are

serious, well enough known, problems in applying it.

The individualistic

bias carried over in other moral extensions, e.g. any experiential theory,
likewise limits their satisfactoriness. It is to understate the matter to
say merely that 'the moral atomism that focuses on individual animals and

their subjective experiences does not seem well adapted to coping with
ecological systems'


'to explore the notion of shared habitat and

the notion that an organism's relationship to its natural environment may

be an important part of the organism's character'

((b), p.52).

A moral atomism that focuses on individuals, discounting their
interrelations, is bound to result in ecological complexes that
(such as ecosystems, wilderness, and species) getting seriously


To illustrate:-

Under atomism, the value of a complex, or

the rights of a complex, amount to no more than those of its individual


but since these are, in isolation from the complex, no more

valuable than other things of their order, e.g. one gentian than another,

a bush rat from a Norwegian rat, there no special merit in a complex, or
rights attaching to it, in virtue of its rareity or uniqueness or special
features as a complex.
Thus, for instance, a utilitarianism under which
only individual animals count assigns, and can assign, no special value to
species, and can (as remarked) be used to argue against preservation of


Since all animals are equal - or at least all animals of the

same genus are more or less equal - one can substitute for another.


rare species of rat to die out painlessly cannot matter while there are

plenty of other rats.

A rights theory is in similar difficulties so long

as rights are assigned only to individuals, taken in isolation from their

environmental setting (i.e. only to the usual separable individuals of
philosophical theory).

These problems may be avoided, in part, by assign­

ing rights to complexes

(given the notion of rights will take that much

further stretching;

which it will not if right holders are assumed to be

conscious or to be preference-havers), and by attributing independent

value to complexes.

But, since the value of a whole is sometimes more

than the sum of the separable values of its individual members, this move

involves the rejection of usual atomism, utilitarianisms in particular.
The objection against the narrow individualism of the extensions - a

defect they share with standard ethics which do not admit of ready
extension, such as contract theories - soon broadens into an objection

that these extensions are built on an inadequate metaphysics, a metaphysics
of rather isolated individuals who (or which) are seriously depauperate in

An ethics presupposes a metaphysics at

their relations with other objects.

least through its choice of base class:

thus for example, usual homocen-

tric formulations of utilitarianisms and contract theories suppose a base

class of narrowly self-interested humans.

The remedy is not (as Rodman

suggests in various places in his elaboration of Ecological Resistance)

to move to holism:

to do so would be to accept the other half of a false

dichotomy mainstream philosophical thought engenders (cf. Routley (g), this


It is rather to move to a metaphysics that is built on a concept­

ion of objects (which may or may not be individuals) which are rich in

their interrelations and connections.
In summary, the moral extensions are the wrong direction in which to

seek a satisfactory environmental ethic.

But the failure of Nature

Moralism does not mean, as Rodman tends to assume, that all positions
that are moral in style are thereby ruled out. 51 For one thing, Nature
Moralism, as characterised (or generalised), is far from exhaustive of

the range of prima facie viable moral positions.

More satisfactory

positions will simply avoid the damaging assumptions of Nature Moralism
(and likewise those of inadequate ethical positions, such as contract
theories or naturalism, and those linking morality to legality;
For another, if the quest is for an

ruled out.

cf. p.103).

moral notions can hardly be

Even if it is assumed that the call for a 'new ethic' is 'to

guide the human/nature relationship (p.95) - a somewhat unfortunate way
of putting it - whereas what matters is the human/nature relationship

itself, and that in coping with that relation fixation on morality or

His thesis of the 'limitation of the moral/legal stage of unconscious­
ness' is investigated in more detail in what follows.

legality is a serious handicap, and may contribute to the problem of the

relationship rather than helping solve it (pp.103-4);

still part of the

problem is that of indicating entitlements of agents with respect to their

environment, what sort of exploitation, if any, is permissible, what the

limits on conventional morality are, and discovering 'a larger normative
order within which we and our species-specific moral and legal systems


have a niche'

Nor, in outlining Ecological Resistance, does

Rodman shrink from using - he could not avoid the effect of - axiological

terms such as 'good' and deontic terms such as 'should';

he does not

doubt, for example, that some of what is natural that is threatened is
valuable and that threats to it should be resisted; and he admits that
'prudence, justice, and reverence may be essential parts of a[n ecologic­
ally] good life'.
Ecological Resistance, which is said to be the alternative 'most
faithful to the integrity of experience', exhibits indeed the negativity

of resistance.

The position is founded on action, resistance, and theory

only emerges retrospectively (if perhaps at all).

Its (insufficiently
qualified) central principle is 'that diversity is natural, good and
threatened by the forces of monoculture'.

The struggle between these

forces, diversity and monoculture - between (ecological) good and evil -

occurs in several different spheres of experience, i.e. at various levels,
which reflect one another. Resistance is not undertaken for self-interest
or utilitarian reasons, or for moral reasons, or for religious or mystical
reasons (such as preventing profanation), but
because the threat to the [natural object or system]

... is perceived

aZso as a threat to the self, or rather to the principle of diversity
and spontaneity that is the endangered side of the basic balance that
defines and sustains the very nature of things ((b), p.54).
The disjunction, 'or', separates however two rather different (though combin­

able) reasons-cum-motives for resistance.

The second disjunct yields the

following reasons for resistance (which are linked by a metaphysical
assumption connecting diversity and spontaneity with the nature of things):

(i) The threat to the natural item is a threat to the principle of
diversity and spontaneity.

So, by the central principle, it is a threat

to what is good, etc.
(ii) The threat to the natural object 'is a threat to the very nature
of things':

(as to how consider the example of the wild river threatened

by a dam, p.115).

So - by an unstated, but nonetheless implied and

assumed, principle, that the very nature of things is good (and natural) it is a threat to the forces of good.


The first disjunct yields



different, argument;

in simplest

(iii) The threat to the natural object is a threat to oneself.


is a threat to oneself is bad and to be resisted, so what is a threat to
the natural object is bad and has to be resisted (since what is bad should,
in general, be resisted).
Although the arguments are valid, the underlying principles are

for instance, the diversity (and spontaneity) principle because

it is too simple (and so too does not harmonize with the nature of things);
and the second principle, the intrinsic merit of the very nature of the
things, because not everything that is the case or is natural is meritor­
ious, e.g. genuinely natural disasters.

Rodman plans to avoid obstacles

to adopting nature as an absolute standard and, at the same time, to
bridge the gap the principle spans, by resort to a version of naturalism

which equates 'the "natural" with the "moral"'


But for well-

known reasons which can be supported (e.g. those telling against objective

ethics of the sort such naturalism would yield), substantive evaluative
assumptions cannot be removed in this fashion;

though they can be

suppressed, they reappear as soon as connections between empirical

trouble, characteristic of reductionism, arises from the mistaken attempt
grounds and evaluative judgments based upon them are queried.

to collapse a grounding, or founding, relation to an identity, to close

the gap - which is not problematic but is widely thought to be problem­
atic - between value and empirical fact by a reduction of value to fact,

of the thesis that evaluative features are grounded on natural features
to the thesis that evaluative features are nothing but certain natural
features (e.g. to be good is just to have certain natural features).


Rodman interprets naturalistically the statement of Jonas's that he
quotes approvingly (p.95):
Only an ethic which is grounded in the breadth of being, not merely
in the singularity or oddness of man, can have significance in the
scheme of things ... an ethics no longer founded on divine authority
[or upon human arete], must be founded on a principle discoverable
in the nature of things ... .

He interprets it in terms of 'an ontologically-grounded moral order in
the "the phenomenon of life" or "the nature of things".'
In this way
can be avoided the reduction of 'the quest for an ethics ... to prattle
about "values" taken in abstraction from the "facts" of experience'.
But Jonas's statement can be construed nonnaturalistically, by taking
the founding or grounding relation seriously, as connecting, but not
reducing, values to empirical facts. So construed the statement does
help in delineating the sort of environmental ethics sought.


Such reductions commit the naturalistic and prescriptive fallacies -

which can be avoided neither by thinking 'our way through or around them'

(p.97), nor by holistic assimilation of morality in a 'more encompassing
ethical life'

(p.103 and note 66).

But details of the fallacies need not

detain us, since we can consider immediately Rodman's important suggestion
for circumnavigating them (pp.103-4).
Under natural social conditions, such as are obtained in some

traditional societies and in some free animal societies (as ethological

studies reveal), but have been lost in modern societies, law and morality,
at least in their coercive aspects, would disappear, as they did in
William Morris's


and somewhat as they would in a Kantian

community of fully autonomous beings.

In terms of modern physics,

morality and law are not invariants but vary under transformation of axes,
and in fact vanish or prove eliminable under a suitable transformations,

e.g. to a natural condition.

There is a similar natural condition for

morality and legality,

a condition in which the prohibitions now prescribed


by God,

Conscience and the State would have operated "naturally"

(i.e. from

inside the organism, as a matter of course), and patterns now stated
prescriptively could have been stated descriptively.

When the Way

is abandoned, then we get Humanity and Justice (Tac Te


Even if a change of social axes could place us back on the Way, or on the

way to the Way, morality is not really avoidable in our local frame where

we are far from the Way.
So ethical disputes over environmental matters
are also unavoidable; *
for those a satisfactory ethic is a desideratum,
and can help in bringing about a change of social axes.

Thus too, the

identity of the prescriptive with the descriptive, of "ought" with

"is", is a merely contingent (extensional) one and fails in

53 The suggestion helps explain not only Rodman's naturalism, but his
thesis of the limitation of morality and legality; it also introduces
the anarchistic social change view that suffuses much of the (very
uneven) later parts of (a): the view appears therein as the elabor­
ation of what is 'unthinkable'.
54 Given prevailing socio-economic conditions it should be rather:
would (ideally) be prescribed. Let us hope, for environmental reasons,
that the principles that are lived by in natural conditions bear not
too great a resemblance to those now prescribed.

55 Nor is there, in the local frame, much alternative but to resort to
legal strategies, where they can be applied (where standing is granted),
to delay "the war against nature".


alternative situations;

hence, as always, there is no deduction of

"ought" from "is", since deducibility would require coincidence in the

alternative situations.

Nor would morality - as distinct from legality,

which requires some codification - strictly disappear under natural

conditions, though its coercive aspects would:
on the whole, as they ought to be.

things would simply be,

But while deontology would have a much

diminished role (as it does on the preferred environmental ethic),
axiology (the theory of value) would still have its place - some objects
(e.g. diverse landscapes) would be more valuable than others (monocultural

landscapes), some not valuable, etc.

(As things stand, of course,

axiology does have an important place in working out the theory of
Ecological Resistance, especially in assessing its central principle of

The upshot is that without much elaboration (like that indicated

below) of an axiological kind, which connects value through a grounding
relation, as distinct from an identity, with the run of things (but not

aZZ things) that are natural, reason (ii) for ecological resistance


Does reason (i), which is premissed on the central principle that

diversity is good and natural and threatened by monoculture, fare any


While it is a matter of fact that that diversity is threatened,

indeed is being very rapidly reduced by the forces of monoculture, diver­
sity is not, as opponents of ecological values are wont to point out, an

entirely unqualified good.

Nor is diversity is always natural:


temperate rain forest can be "enriched" and rendered more diverse by

interplanting of exotics (a practice foresters have applied, e.g. in
New Zealand) but the result is not natural and sometimes at least bad.

Or, differently, ecological diversity can often be increased by increasing

edges between ecosystems, but the practice of increasing edges can easily

be unnatural and far from good, as, e.g. in rainforest logging with (say)

50% canopy retention.

So although a reduction of diversity is commonly

bad, since the reduction reduces the quality of an ecological whole, and

increase in diversity good, diversity can not be accepted as a solo
In fact, Rodman often couples diversity with other factors,
such as naturalness (inadmissible in determining, noncircularly,

what is

good and natural), richness, spontaneity and integrity, which help to

remove various of the counterexamples to a diversity principle. The
procedure points in the direction to be pursued: replacement of the oversimple principle of diversity by a principle combining all relevant

ecological factors.

After all ecological sensibility - ecological resist­

ance is assumed to be the position of the person of ecological sensibility requires sensitivity to all such ecological factors.


Once it is determined

through consideration of a mix of ecological factors, that, or whether,
a natural object is good or valuable the reasons for resistance can be

(iv) Where a natural object is valuable - as c/fe?? natural objects

are, a natural object does not have to be very ecologically distinctive

to be valuable - the threat to the natural object is a threat to what is

But, other things being equal, threats to what is valuable


should be resisted.

So, similarly, threats to natural objects should

often be resisted - and always (on whatever level) resisted where the
objects are valuable and the costs of resisting are not overridingly high

(to begin to spell out the ceteris



It remains to tie in reason (iii), a key premiss of which can now

take the initial form that the threat to a valuable natural object is a
threat to oneself.

A threat to what is valuable, to what one as a valuer


is a threat to the valuer, to oneself, for these are one's values.

To make

some of those connections good again requires an excursion into

axiology, one, this time, that connects what is valuable with a valuer's


But Rodman, in trying to connect the threats to natural objects

and to oneself, is forced further afield, and resorts to the myth of

'Ecological Resistance involves a ritual affirmation of the

Myth of Microcosm'

universe' (OED).

((b), p.5.4), i.e'. the view of man 'as epitome of the

While such an affirmation - without the ritual - would

yield the requisite connection, it is a classic piece of anthropocentric-

ism, quite hostile to a nonchauvinistic position, and, fortunately,
inessential to genuine ecological resistance.

What Rodman reaches for

from the myth (which could be restated in terms of

without its

classic homocentric bias) is however extremely important:
it is an
account of the
which is not a separate subject
isolated from its (natural) environment (as a Humean individual is),56 but
is connected intensionally and causally interrelated with that environment.

Rodman introduces this metaphysics in rather old-fashioned terms:
Ecological Resistance ... assumes a version of the theory of internal

the human personality discovers its structure through

interaction with the nonhuman order.

I am what I am at least partly

in my relation to my natural environment, and changes in that environ­

ment affect my own identity.

If I stand idly by and let it be

destroyed, a part of me is destroyed or seriously deranged ((b)

p. 54).

Not Man Apart, in the terms of Friends of the Earth.


For among my interests are its interests, part of my welfare is its
I am identified in part with it.
The metaphysics deepens,

A resister 'does not stand over against

then, the reasons for resistance.

"his environment" as manager, sight-seer, or do-gooder;
integral part of [it]'

he is an

((b), p.56).

But the environmental metaphysics, that underlies and helps support
the ethics, that is part of a fuller environmental theory, need not be,

and should not be if it is to be coherent, as (Hegelian and) holistic as

Rodman immediately goes on to suppose that it is:
... By making the principle of diversity central, Ecological
Resistance can incorporate the other three perspectives as moments
within the dialectic

of a larger whole. Economics, morality, and
an esthetic religiosity have niches in the ecology of our experience

of nature, and each has its limits (p.56 continued).
But a principle of diversity which opposes the forces of monoculture will

not yield

pluralism, unless illegitimately extrapolated to theories

where its merit is much less evident, especially when some of these

theories are not only mutually inconsistent but false.

Rodman risks the

distinctive features of Ecological Resistance for a dubious synthesis.
It is only true that the positions can be combined if the first three
positions are
limited indeed, and then a trivial combination with
each theory working where it works (which may be nowhere actual in the

case of the religious component) can be managed.

Moreover Ecological

Resistance properly developed, will lead to economic and ethical theories

which compete with the rather conventional, and environmentally defective
theories of, respectively, Resource Conservation and Natural Moralism.

Not only is Ecological Resistance severely handicapped by having
implausible holistic theses tacked in to it (not all of which have been

further, Ecological Resistance is too negative.

A more

positive theory - which includes a theory of value and, ultimately, for a
fuller environmental position, a metaphysics - is required, not only for

orientation and to meet felt needs of environmentalists already noted,
but for more effective, coherent and systematic resistance.

It is but a short step to the 'fully ecological sensibility [which]
knows with Carl Sandburg that:'
There is an eagle in me ... and the eagle flies among the Rocky
Mountains of my dreams and fights among the Sierra crags of what
I want ... . And I got the eagle ... from the wilderness, (p.118)
The poem almost admits of neutral logical formalisation.


trees, kill everything

f/xe Farf/z,

(ed. T.C. McLuhan,

Sphere Books, London, 1973, p.15).
The great care with which so many of the Indians utilized
every portion of the carcass of a hunted animal was an expression,

not of economic thrift, but of courtesy and respect

(D. Lee, in

Farf/z, p.15)-

What the respect position is based on is the fact that it is possible
to make use of something without treating it as something which is no more

than a means to one's ends.

That is, it is possible to make use of some­

thing in limited, constrained ways - with constraints which may


derive entirely from considerations of the welfare of other humans, as in
the case of the Indians' use of animals - without treating it as available
for any kind of use.

To so use something without treating it as available

for unlimited or unconstrained use for human ends is characteristic of


In contrast non-respectful use treats the use of the item

as constrained by no considerations arising from the item itself and the
user's relationship to it, but as constrained only in a derivative way, by

considerations of the convenience, welfare and so forth of other humans.

The Western view, as the Indians realised, is the non-respect position,
that the world is available for unconstrained human use.

People who hold

respect positions, such as the Indians, see such a position as indicative
of a lack of moral sensitivity, and sometimes in even stronger terms.
The conventional wisdom of Western society tends to offer a false

dichotomy of use versus respectful nonuse - a false choice which comes
out especially clearly again in the treatment of animals.

Here the choice

presented in Western thought is typically one of edf/zer use without respect

or serious constraint, of using animals for example in the ways character­
istic of large-scale mass-production farming and a market economic system

which are incompatible with respect, or on the other hand of not making
any use of animals at all, for example, never making use of animals for
food or for farming purposes.

What is left out in this choice is the

alternative the Indians and other non-Western people have recognised, the

alternative of limited and respectful use, which enables use to be made of
animals, but does not allow animals to be used in an unconstrained way or
merely as a means to human ends.
Such an alternative can have some applic­

ation in a Western context (for some limited examples of respectful use
in the operations of a small farmer, see John Seymour,
Faber, London, 1976). A limited and respectful use

position would condemn the infliction of unnecessary pain on animals, and
also the treatment of animals as machines, as in factory farming.



would also condemn unecessary and wasteful killing and especially killing

for amusement or "sport", which is incompatible with respect and assumes

that animals can be used merely as a means for
human ends. But
it would not necessarily oppose the use of animals in the case of approp­

riate non-trivial need, e.g. for food, although here again it would
insist that the ways in which use can be made are limited, and not just
by considerations of effect on other humans.
The limited and respectful use position avoids some of the serious
problems of the no-use position of the animal liberationists, although it

shares many of the same beliefs concerning the illegitimacy of factory
farming and similar disrespectful methods of making use of and exploiting


The no-use position faces the problem that it proposes that

humans should treat animals in ways which are quite different from the

ways in which animals treat one another, for example, prohibiting needful
use for food.

Thus the no-use position seems obliged to say either that

the world would be a better place without carnivores, or else that

carnivorous animals themselves are inferior, immoral,
moral creatures - whichever, alternative

amoral or non-

is taken here the bulk of

animals emerge as inferior to humans, or at least vegetarian humans.
implies too that an impoverished natural order which lacked carnivores -

and given what we know of ecology this would be a very highly impoverished
one indeed, not to say an unworkable "natural" order - is preferable to a

rich natural one with a normal proportion of carnivorous and partly
carnivorous species.


Since it would imply the moral inferiority of

the no-use position appears to arrive at the negation of its

own starting point,

(as regards e.g., the equality consideration) of all

animals, human and non-human.

In thus seeing humans as capable of a moral

existence which most animals are not capable of, it sees man as apart from
a largely amoral, (or immoral) natural world, denies community with the
animal and natural world,and indirectly reinforces human chauvinism.



A radical change in a theory not uncommonly forces changes elsewhere

- conceptual revision which affects not only the theory itself but many

neighbouring areas.

The phenomenon is well-known in the case of major

physical theories, but it holds as well for ethical and philosophical

for example, a logical theory which rejects the Reference

Theory in a thoroughgoing way has important repercussions throughout much

of the rest of philosophy, and requires modification not only of logical


systems and their semantics, but also, for instance, of the usual meta­
theory which also accepts the Reference Theory and indeed which is
tailored to cater only for logics which do conform.


thorough-going environmental ethics likewise has a substantial

impact and forces many changes.

The escape from human chauvinism not

only involves sweeping changes in ethical principles and value theory but
it induces substantial'reverberations elsewhere - both inwards, for

example in metaphysics, in epistemology, and in the philosophy and method­
ology of science, and outwards (in subjects that presuppose value theory)

in social theory, in politics, in economics and in law, and beyond.


human chauvinism is deeply embedded in Western culture, and affects not
only the ideology and the institutions but the arts.

Thus, for example,

much of literature, and especially of ballet and film, is given over to a
celebration of things human, of the species. Even the timely new emphasis,
for instance of the counterculture, on human relations (as opposed to self-

contained private individuals of social theories)

remains well within

the inherited chauvinistic framework.
As to the changes, let us begin again with ethics.

As we have begun

to see, an environmental ethic can retain, though in a much amended

theoretical framework (which affects meanings of terms), virtually all
the standard ethical terminology.

But even at a superficial syntactical

level, there will be conspicuous alterations:

firstly, ethical terminology

will be enriched with new environmental terms, drawn in particular from

ecology, somewhat as it was expanded in the late nineteenth century by
terminology from evolutionary theories;

and secondly, accompanying the

attitudinal shifts the new ethic involves, there will be a marked shift
in ethical terminology, away from the predominance of such terms as (and
examples associated with)


to such expressions as 'care',







Because the theoretical and attitudinal

frame is changed, an environmental ethic forces - as we have already
found with such notions as



reexamination of, and modified analyses of, characteristic ethical notions.
It requires, furthermore, reassessment of traditional and conventional
analyses of such notions as natural right, ground of right, and permissib­

ility, especially where these are based on chauvinist assumptions - much

as it requires the rejection of most of the more prominent meta-ethical

These points are explained in detail in Routley (e); and also in
L. Goddard and R. Routley, T/ze
urui Context,
Vol. 1, Scottish Academic Press, 1973, chapters 3 and 4.


Cursory examination of recent accounts of nutMruZ
wcrcZZtpj jMst-Zce and cctfc?? will help illustrate and confirm these

Hart, for example, accepts (subject to defeating conditions which
are here irrelevant) the classical doctrine of natural rights according

to which, among other things,
any adult human ... capable of choice is at liberty to do (i.e. is

under no obligation to abstain from) any action which is not one
coercing or restraining or designed to injure other persons (H.L.A.

'Are there any natural rights?', reprinted in PcZZticuZ


(ed. A. Quinton), Blackwell, Oxford 1967).

But this sufficient condition for a human natural right depends on

accepting the basic chauvinist principle - a variant of (D) - environmental
ethics reject;

since if a person has a natural right he has a right.


too the definition of a natural right adopted by classical theorists and
accepted with minor qualifications by Hart presupposes the same defective

principle. Accordingly an environmental ethic would have to amend the
classical notion of a natural right, a far from straightforward matter now

that human rights with respect to animals and the natural environment are,
like those with respect to slaves not all that long ago, undergoing major

Another example of chauvinism at work in the very setting up of the
field of discussion and problems in ethics is provided by recent accounts

of .^ercZ'Ztp, where it is simply taken for granted that 'moral' distinguishe
actions, policies, motives and reasons,
and that what is

moral refers essentially to human well-being (contentment, happiness
or something of this general sort, tied with appropriate states or

conditions of humans).

Such criteria for what is moral are chauvinistic-

ally based, assuming that what does not bear on human states or conditions
cannot be a moral matter.

What happens in worlds without humans,

how animals fare or are treated, what is done or what happens to plants

or other natural objects - none of these are directly moral matters,
except insofar as they impinge on human welfare.

That is human

96 Thus for instance, B. Williams, ^eruZitz/.- Xx
tc Effies,
Harper & Row, New York, 1972, p.79. Williams does, however, remark in
his Preface (p.xiv) how 'shaky and problematic' the distinction - which
he subsequently takes for granted - is.
97 see, for example, P.R. Foot, Tbecries cf FtZrZcs, Oxford University
Press, London, 1967,and G.J. Warnock, Oc^tewpcrcrp McraZ PhZZcscpbp,
Macmillan, London, 1967, and also The Object cf AfcrcZZty, Methuen,
London, 1971.


chauvinism at work, and is at the same time a reductio

such criteria.

ad absurdum of

A different nonchauvinistic account of what is moral is

required (a beginning can be made by adopting certain of the maligned
formal criteria). It is evident that any account which meets even weak

conditions of adequacy will serve to meet the objection that an environmental ethic is not concerned with what is moral but is really an aesthetic
For the objection as usually presented depends squarely on a
chauvinistic restriction on morality, all the rest of value theory being

classed, or dismissed, as "(mere) aesthetics".

The case of morality

illustrates the characteristic way in which theories - in this case
chauvinistic ethics - redefine crucial notions in their own terms to suit
their own ends, such as entrenchment and fortification of the theories

against objections.
Further corollaries of the rejection of chauvinism include the

inadequacy of recent fashionable attempts, mainly derivative from Hobhouse,

at characterising eguuZitp and justifying it in ways that argue from man's
humanity,98 and the inadequacy of much recent, largely chauvinistic, work
which takes it for granted that action and
rationality requirements on action are bound up with human nature.

in the philosophy of

The abandonment of chauvinism implies the rejection not only of much
ethical analysis, but of all current major ethical positions.

The bias of

prevailing ethical positions, and also of economic positions, which aim to

make principles of conduct or reasonable economic behaviour calculable is
especially evident.

These positions typically employ a single criterion

p, such as preference or happiness, as a summum bonum;


each individual of some base class, almost always humans, but perhaps

including future humans, is supposed to have (at least) an ordinal p-

ranking of the states in question (e.g. of affairs, of the economy);


some principle is supplied to determine a collective p-ranking of these

states in terms of individual p-rankings, and what is best or ought to be
done is determined either directly, as in act-utilitarianism under the
Greatest Happiness principle, or indirectly, as in rule-utilitarianism in
terms of some optimization principle applied to the collective ranking,

The species bias is transparent from the selection of the base class.


Among such unsatisfactory liberal egalitarian positions are those
presented in G. Vlastos, 'Justice and equality' in JooiuZ
(ed. R.B. Brandt), Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1962, and
B.A.O. Williams, ' The idea of equality' in P^i^osoph^, Pacifies artJ
Jpcietz/, Second series (ed. P. Laslett and W.G. Runciman), Blackwell,
Oxford, 1963.

99 gee, e.g. T. Nagel, TTns PossiM7-7fi/ of
Oxford, 1970.

Clarendon Press,

even if the base class is extended to include persons or some animals
(at the cost, like that of including remotely future humans, of losing

testability), the positions are open to familiar criticism, namely that

the whole of the base class may be prejudiced in a way which leads to
unjust principles.

To take a simple example, if every member of the base

class detests dingoes, on the basis of mistaken data as to dingoes'
behaviour, then by the Pareto ranking test the collective ranking will
rank states where dingoes are exterminated very highly, from which it will
generally be concluded that dingoes ought to be exterminated (still
unfortunately the evaluation of most Australian farmers, though it lacks

any requisite empirical basis).

Likewise it would just be a happy

accident, it seems, if collective demand (horizontally summed from
individual demand) for a state of the economy with sperm whales as a
mixed good, were to succeed in outweighing private whaling demands;


if but few in the base class happened to know that sperm whales exist or

cared a jot that they do, then even the most "rational

economic decision­

making would do nothing to prevent their extinction. But whether the
sperm whale survives should not have to depend on what humans know or what

they see on television.

Summed human interests, or preferences of certain

private individuals, are far too parochial to provide a satisfactory basis
for deciding upon what is environmentally desirable.

Nor would such

accidental bases be adequate.
Moreover ways out of the problem do not bear much investigation.

It cannot be assumed, for instance, that the base class is on the whole
good, and hence will not enjoin reprehensible behaviour, because such an

assumption seems false, would at best be contingently true (so that the
theory would fail for different circumstances to which it should apply),
and would involve a deep problem in the theory, since it would then seem

to admit the determination of goodness - that of the base class, on the

whole - independently of what the theory was set up to determine, among
other things, goodness. Nor can it be assumed, without serious circularity
that the optimisation is constrained by requirements of justice or fairness
(see Routley (b) and §5 above).
The ethical and economic theories just singled out (which are based

on optimisation over select features of the base class) are not alone in
their species chauvinism;

much the same applies to mosf going meta-

ethical theories which, unlike intuitionistic theories, try to offer some
rationale for their basic principles.

That is, the argument against

utilitarian-type ethical and economic theories generalises.

For instance,

on social contract positions, obligations are a matter of mutual agreement


between individuals of a given (but again problematic) base class;

on a

social justice picture, rights and obligations spring from the application
of symmetrical fairness principles to members of the base class, usually
a rather special class of persons;while on a Kantian position, which
has some vogue, obligations somehow arise from respect for members of the

base class, persons.In each case, if members of the base class happen
to be ill-disposed to items outside the base class, then that is unfortun­
ate for them:
that is (rough) justice.
Looking outwards from the ethics, the abandonment of chauvinism has

likewise a wide set of consequences, both theoretical and practical, in
economics, politics and law, and generally in the social sciences

major practical economic impact of environmental ethics is in the extent
to which free enterprise can operate unimpeded or unchanged.

of business and enterpreneurial activity - to


consider one option - will

involve, in turn, either legal constraints, or reallocation of activity
by such devices as environmental pricing, which directs activity away from

environmentally undesirable pursuits.

For example, if it is wrong to

destroy a rare ecosystem in order to make a few more dollars, then

restrictions should be imposed on business activity by one method or
another. To some limited extent this is already happening in the field of
pollution, but primarily because of the likely effects, direct or not too
far removed, that pollution comes to have on other humans, not for a wider

set of reasons, and often not for the right reasons.

With a wider environ

mental code, the public and legal intrusion into areas typically regarded

as "private" and open to the free enterprise operations (of "open go")

would be much more extensive.

The same applies in the case of private

100 Thus for example,
[Rawls'] original position seems to presuppose not just a neutral
theory of the good, but a liberal, individualistic conception
according to which the best that can be wished for someone is the
unimpeded pursuit of his own path, provided it does not interfere
with the rights of others.
This view is persuasively developed in
the later portions of the book, but without a sense of its controver­
sial character (T. Nagel, 'Rawls on justice', PkiZcscphicuZ
82 (1973), p.228).
Nagel also effectively argues that Rawls' original position is not
neutrally determined but involves substantial moral assumptions (e.g.
pp.232, 233);
they are mostly, as it happens, of a chauvinistic cast.

10^ While the first of Kant's maxims is not so restricted in actual form­
ulation, others are (see H.J. Paton, TPe
Hutchinson, London,
1947. And, firstly, such maxims are s^pp<9se^ to be equivalent to ones
formulated in terms of persons; secondly, they are supposed to be
derived from features of, or connected with, people.



for example, given that it is not permissible to erode hill­

sides then there should, in this setting, be (legal) restrictions on

farmers' and foresters' activities.
Although the impact on the practice of economics of a thoroughgoing
environmental ethic would be drastic - market negotiations, firms'
activities,-international trade, all would be affected - the impact on

the underlying theories of preference and choice is comparatively


but still far from negligible. For much of economics is squarely founded
on chauvinism.
The theoretical bias follows directly from the utilitarian

bases of the theory, which is fairly explicit in welfare theory and rather
heavily disguised in neoclassical theory.

But although choice and value

theory are, as characteristically presented in economics and elsewhere,
damagingly chauvinistic, they do not have to be.
For the theories can be

reformulated in a non-chauvinistic way, as was indicated (in §5) above
for utilitarianism - upon which economic theory is modelled.

On such a

revamped foundation an environmental economics to match the chosen
environmental ethic can be built (for some preliminaries on this approach,
see Routley (d), appendices 1 and 6).
Several of the objections to base class theories such as utilitar­
ianism apply not merely against orthodox economic theory, but also to
voting theory, to representative democratic systems of determination of
political action.

If, for, example, the base class consists of private

individuals motivated by their own self-contained interest then such

procedures can readily lead to most undesirable results, especially if

these individuals


representative individuals.

their autonomy through the election of
For the more powerful of these representative

individuals can be - and typically are, as their behaviour if not their

protestations show - not favourably disposed to (the welfare of) things

outside the base class or even to many members of the base class.
Nearer the theoretical surface, especially in such branches of

economics as "resource management", the chauvinism is more conspicuous.
The following narrowly utilitarian assumption is quite typical:

The goal of resource managers should be to communicate and act in
ways that maximize human satisfaction (H.J. Campbell, 'Economic and
social significance of upstream aquatic resources' in Forest
Oregon State University, Corcallis,

1971, p-14, also p.17).

management - where such is

management becomes

needed at all - the goals will be changed from such chauvinistic ones.


The method of interference in

"free economic enterprise", of

controls and regulations, of legal and political constraints, is only one

way in which leading principles of an environmental ethics can be put

into effect.

A quite different, and ultimately far more appealing,

approach is by way of structural change, by changing the socio-economic

structure in such a way that it comes to reflect on environmental ethics

(by altering the frame of reference, or axes, to use the physical picture
of §4, so.that major problems vanish).

Requisite structural change is
102 .
far-reaching, both practically and theoretically'
in every reach of

social science.

For example, while on the


capitalist markets are subject to further regulation, either directly
imposed or by way of suitable pricing policies, in the sfrzzcfLzraZ-

position, capitalist markets are eliminated;

while under state

regulation private property is subject to further controls,given approp­

riate structural change private property disappears.
Looking inwards, an environmental ethic has an impact on the

practice of many sciences other than the social sciences - what they do

experimentally with natural objects (e.g. the treatment of animals in
laboratory testing);

how their research programmes are organised and

directed (consider, e.g., projects involving irradiation or broadscale

herbicide treatments of rainforests);

the way classifications are made

and which are made (consider, e.g. the extent to which human perception

enters into classifications in botany);
recommended on the basis of such sciences.

and, of course, what is
For as it stands human

chauvinism is deeply embedded in the practice of science, directly in

research and experimentation and in shaping classifications, theses and

Indeed the effect of a different ethic may extend even to the

theory of such sciences, in particular through the bearing the ethic has
on metaphysics which in turn influences the foundations or such sciences.

Such a new ethic would quite properly upset (as §1 should indicate) the
extent to which humans are seen at the centre of things and things as

accountable through them and scientific theories as 'human constructions
wrestled from a hostile nature'

(after Popper).

It would help overthrow

the pernicious chauvinistic idea that, apart from certain elementary facts,


isf AfeyzscZzoMMor^., all necessity, all intensionality,


It should result too in the shattering of still widespread

As (g) V. and R. Routley, 'Social theory, self management and
environmental problems', this volume, begins to explain.

Cf. R. Harre,
P/zi^osop?zies of
and also Routley (e).

Oxford University Press,

assumptions as to the nature of animals and plants, for instance that
their apparently goal-directed and intensional behaviour can be explained

(away) mechanistically, and the deeply-rooted idea that some sort of

Cartesian metaphysical picture of natural, as distinct from spiritual or
rational, objects can be maintained (cf. again §1).

In metaphysics there are at least two further important classes of

Firstly, the orthodox views of man's relation to nature, the

dominant and modified dominant and lesser traditions, have to be abandoned

and new positions worked out.

In this sense, a new environmental ethic

implies a similarly new metaphysic redefining Man's place in nature and
human/nature relationships.^^4 such a new philosophy of nature will
recognise various natural objects other than humans as of independent
value, so it will not be naturalistic.

Nor will it view natural objects

as simply available for the use, wise or otherwise, of humans.


principles derived from the orthodox metaphysical positions will have to

be abandoned and replacements worked out (as in the case of (D) in ethics).

Thus superseded, for example, will be the principles of total use of
natural areas for human use and of maximum long-term productivity of the
earth's resources (principles criticised in their application in forestry
in Routley (d)).

At a deeper level, such a philosophy of nature will

involve a turning away from the leading ideological principles of both the

Renaissance and the Enlightenment and of much that went with them (e.g.
with the Rennaissance, the rise of commerce, bureaucracy, professionalism,
formal education, and subsequently, with the Enlightenment, the rise of

the modern state, capitalism and scientific enlightenment).

For it means

the dismissal of the chauvinistic principles of the Renaissance, with 'Man

as the kernel of the Universe', a creature 'half-earthly and half—divine,
his body and soul form[ing] a microcosm enabling him to understand and
control Nature . ..'.^O-^
It means too removal of the humanism of the

Enlightenment, the reduction of what formerly was assigned to the religious,
such as ethical and political principles, to the human, a reduction which


Passmore has observed - inconsistently with what is claimed in his
(a) - in 'Attitudes to Nature', Poz/aZ. Irzstitz^te
P/ziZ-csopTzz/ lectures,
volume 8, Macmillan, London, 1975. As against Passmore (a) p.3, such
new ethics and metaphysics need involve no abandonment of 'the
analytical, critical approach which is the glory of the West': on the
contrary, they may well mean a more thoroughly critical and analytical
approach than hitherto.

104 goth quotations are from ?7ze
<9/ t/z<3 Pgrzaissa^cg (ed. D. Hay)
Thames and Hudson, London 1967, pp.7-10, where too main movements,
practical and ideological, of the Renaissance are usefully


was based on the false dichotomy, which has still not lost its hold:

reli.gious or humanistic.
Secondly, the removal of humans from a dominant position in the
natural order renders immediately suspect a range of familiar philosophical

positions of a verificationistic or idealistic kind such as phenomenalism
in epistemology (how can what exists depend on what is perceived by

members of such a transitory and perhaps not so important species or on
whether there exist <2722/ perceivers?), intuitionism in mathematics, con­

ventionalism in logical theory, the Copenhagen interpretation in micro­
physics, and subjectivisms not only in ethics but in every other

philosophical sphere.

True, most of these positions are defeated on the

basis of other considerations anyway;

but it is an immediate and further

point against them that they are damagingly chauvinistic.

Thus a corollary of the thoroughgoing rejection of human chauvinism,
of very considerable philosophical importance, is the rejection of all


usual forms of idealism, i.e. all positions which accord primacy to

the human subject and make the existence of a world of things or the

nature of things dependent upon such subjects.

A paradigmatic example is

phenomenalism; other examples are Kantian idealisms, Hegelianisms and
later German idealisms, Christian philosophies based on the primacy of
human (and superhuman) consciousness, existentialisms;

more surprising

examples are empiricisms - inasmuch as all knowledge and truth is supposed

to be ultimately derived from human experience - and their holistic

images, dialectical materialisms and Marxisms.

A satisfactory environ­

mental philosophy will be significantly different from all these




Richard Routley and Val Routley, “Box 20, Item 3: Draft of Human chauvinism and environmental ethics,” Antipodean Antinuclearism, accessed December 10, 2023,

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