Box 20, Item 2: Draft of Human chauvinism and environmental ethics


Box 20, Item 2: Draft of Human chauvinism and environmental ethics


Printout of draft, undated. Handwritten on attached leaf to paper: 57-85 Taken out for age. 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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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 6f Western ethics is its human chauvinism or anthropo^centricism - a chauvinism which emerges in a refined, and apparently more

reds&n*able, form as person chauvinism in much modern ethical theory.


What is chauvinism?


Class chauvinism, in the relevant sense, is

sz^Etant^aZ-Z-z/ differential, discriminatory and inferior treatment (by

sufficiently many members of the class) for items outside the class, for
which there is not enff-ZcZen^ justification.

Pnwan chauvinism is class

chauvinism where the class is humans, wuZ-e chauvinism where the class is
human males, an-Z/zzaZ. chauvinism where the class is animals, etc.
It would be bazf, 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 a new, an environmental, ethic?', Procee^-Znps of Zz/ze XPt/z ^orZ^
Ccnpress of PTz^Z-cscp/zz/, 1 (1973), pp.205-10), was drafted in 1973 and
read in 1974 at the University of Indiana, Bloomington, at Notre Dame
University, and at the Conference on The Good Society held at the
University of Victoria, Canada. Since the main virtue of the paper has
been that it'has generated much interesting discussion, the original
form has been retained, though the authors are no longer especially
happy with the form, and many theses remain insufficiently developed or
defended. But in order not to remove the previous and continuing
criticism, no substantial deletions have been made, even though the
paper has been raided and segments of it presented in improved form
elsewhere, especially (a) R. and V. Routley, 'Against the inevitability
of human chauvinism', in MoraZ P/z-ZZosopTzz/ an<7 t?ze Tzjentp-F-Zrst Centnrz/
(edited by K. Goodpaster and K. Sayre), Notre Dame University Press,
1979, and (b) R. and V. Routley, 'An expensive repair-kit for
utilitarianism', paper presented at the Colloquium on Preferences CTzo^ce
an<i FaZzve, RSSS, Australian National University, 1977. However some
sizeable additions have been made, with a view to increasing the
intelligibility and enlarging the scope of the original draft, and meet­
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 spoo-Zes 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 - *Zf 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
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. /zowo sap*Zo?zs) as zoologically defined.

There is

nothing about the characteristic of TzMwazzZZp 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),
Mor azzd
-Z^Zo Z/ze zzzaZ^roat/TzozzZ of yzorz-ZzMwaMS, Gollancz,
London, 1971;
P. Singer, ?l?z-Z7na:Z f-Z^oraf-ZoM.
pzezj o^/z-Zos for OMr
of azz*Z/??aZs, Cape, London, 1976; S.R.L. Clark, y/zo A7oraZ
of ^H-ZwaZs, Clarendon, Oxford, 1977.



objection applies against the simple

need's argument:

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
creatures having a (certain sort of)^ language or a higher level 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

2 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

contrast the very many respects in which some
or sorts of animals
superior bo bMfnans (many are noted in V.B. Droscher, Tbe
abilities (cf. the cultural loading of various intelligence tests).

4?ibmaZ Parcaptbo^, Allen, London,

of tbe Sassos.

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, for exampZ-e, 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

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 parson (the class marked out for privileged treatment being the class

of persons) rather than criteria for being bz^wan - in order to escape
difficulties raised by young, senile, decrepit, stupid, irrational,
3 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
discussion in E.O. Wilson, SocZobboZ-opp.
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.q. the details assembled in E. Linden, 4p<2s_,
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.)
4 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 t

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

u 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


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

agent or initiator.

Not only does it appear that (the more worthy of)

such criteria apply (or could apply) to many nonhuman animals - thus

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

(or u crMc^uZ) distinguishing

It can hardly provide the appropriate filter, since it not only

gives no sharp cut-off point,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.

On next page.


why rank knowledge so highly:

for (pace 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

ratZozzaZZZp, 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 i^, 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

almost all cases).
If it were the ability, e.g. to do ZopZc (say propositional calculus) or to assess reasoning verbally, then the (biassed)
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 D?zat respect is it that persons - or worse, just
persons - are free.

Also the justificatory problem, as to how the

claimed freedom or rationality warrants such differential treatment,


Characterisations of parsons vary enormously, from so strong

that they rule out suburban humans who are not "self-made" enterpreneurs,
to so weak that they admit very wa^z/ 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 ,

4zzstraZasZa?z JoMrzzaZ of P/zZZosop/zz/, 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 t
way Western ethics ranks them, may be found in C.B. Daniels,
PaaZMaZZoK of FZTzZcaZ T/zoorZes, Philosophy in Canada Monograph, Halifax,
Nova Scotia, 1975.)


Most rats and rabbits satisfy the conditions:
conscious animals that have intentions

they are sentient,

(e.g. to get through some barrier

such as a floor or a fence), beliefs and thoughts (e.g. that there is

For his further argument Townsend

preferred food beyond the barrier).

shifts - without notice, but in a way that is quite typical of this
scene - to wzzcTz 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 person as a
notion of orthodox moral relevance, or possessed by the notion of /zzzwczzz
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 zzozze^zz-Zz^uZezzf
characterisations of (zzatz^raZ) person - none of them equivalent to
/zzzzzzuzz - 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',
^MstraZ-Zazz Lazj JozzrzzczZ, 52 (1978), p.605);

the stronger characterisations which invoke (rather vaguely specified,
and cZ-Z//ere?zt) minimum conditions of rationality in belief and action said to imply respoTzs-Zb-ZZ-Ztz/ on the part of the person for what s/he
does, though they do zzcf - exclude many of the creatures admitted by
weaker characterisations. For such stronger characterisations see
'Individuality, autonomy and community' in CozzzzzzMzz-Ztz/ (ed. E. Kamenka)
Edward Arnold (forthcoming) and (c) 'Freedom, autonomy and the concept
of a person', ProceecZ-Zzzps o/ t?ze ^r-Zs^oteZ-Zuzz Society, 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 prefer­
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
tests for membership of a privileged class (essentially an
elitist view), instead of upon, say, respect for the preferences of other

Accordingly fka skarp woraZ
ethics by philosophers and others alike,

commonly accepted m

a^-fmaZ speafas, Zacks a safZsfacforz/ cokarazif bcsZs.
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 mcraZ
can be made;

of these coincides with a division into human and others.
Consider, first, the question of consideration fiards 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. Insofar

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.,

8 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. The
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.).
9 Although the divisions may be conceptually sharp enough, they are any­
thing but sharp when applied in the field to the variety of creature
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 t ese
potential decision cases are cases for cheerful indecision; _ u ,
alternatively, the divisions may be viewed - perhaps better
not a
sharp boundaries, but as gradation states, as where two colours m 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).

The /zuzzz^zz^ a/* pr^yerezzces


of preferences revealed through choices) is however a quite sufficient

basis for z^/zz^s

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 correspazz^zzy pezzaraZ
zza^ to putt afTzars

a/zZ-^pa^azz pr^zzc^pZ-e

("at/zer preyerezzce-TzuzJersJ tzzto a c%spreyerra<^ stato y*ar

zza paa<i raasazz.

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

sort of moral consideration, to other criteria

sometimes proposed such as sentience - or, differently, intelligence -

especially since in the absence of preferences such notions as /zurzzztzz^

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 ^azJarzis 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

zzat zzecassurz/ 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,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
belief,12 appear extremely feeble when applied to preference. For the

arguments start from the claim that we cannot say zjTzat 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.q. 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.
11 The traditional reasons look slight also in the case of preferences
and choices.
It would have been claimed - the theory forces the claim
Interestingly, choices
- that animals' choices could not be rational,
of many animals conform to behavioural criteria for rationality pro
posed in economics.
12 See J. Bishop, 'More thought on thought and talk',
and R Routley, 'Alleged problems in attributing beliefs to anima s ,
paper'prepared for the B.Ztef 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
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 be put into states they disprefer.
that is required for an 'interest' or 'welfare' in the broad sense is a
telos or life-goal, as possessed by living things, or an equilibrium or

system goal, as possessed by living ecosystems.

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

or 'preferred environments'

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

frost-free location with a well drained soil').

us say that the


preferred states

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

13 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
boundary). 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.


There is a general obligation principle

into the nearby ocean.

corresponding likewise to this more comprehensive class of welfare

bearers, namely,

ohjecfs <9r
^<90<i reason.

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

in principle at least,

value or disvalue, and so of woraZ concern.

almost any sort of object.

<2% object of

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 cZass).

Just as there are relevant divisions beyond the class of preference­
havers, so there are within the class.
Thus the suggestion that the class

towards which moral obligations (and a corresponding sort 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
can be made
the class of preference-havers with respect to the kind
of behaviour appropriate to them.

For example,


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

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, obligationholders and responsibility-bearers, those contractually-comnitted-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 excluded 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 unchauvinistic, 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.
notion of

But dropping the

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,
differential treatment enjoined nonpersons as distinct
is the ex
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
such a criticism
is based firmly
14 According to Q. Gibson
----- ----.
This is simply
on Western ethical equality and egalitarian principles,.
The general argument
not so: there is no reliance on such principles,
feature -f cannot
be what justifies
takes the form;
----- —
- . .
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


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
justification. The prevailing nineteenth century Western attitude to wild

creatures is evident from Judge Blackstone (quoted approvingly in
Penguin, London, 1967, pp.431):

W. Cobbett, E^raZ

With regard likewise to wild animals, aZZ rT?a%kZ%<7


bz/ the

the 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 Z/zZs 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
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 ZsoZate^ 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'

ct/zer essuz/s

(A. Leopold, A


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 coi^munity 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 eyz^trozi/TzeMtuZ gtTz^c, 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 some 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. The
only way in the end, that the claim gets support is by a narrow, and no
longer acceptable, account of what is moral in terms of concern with

humans alone (cf. S6). 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, reconstrue

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

be morally circumscribed, and in this sense the scope of morality would
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
n ,been mapped
.3 out:
4. 15 a
concerning man's relation to nature have recently

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 StoicAugustine view - it exists only for his sake^^), whereas on an

See especially (a) J. Passmore, Man's Fespons^btZ^^z/ for
Duckworth, London, 1974;
also R. Nash, ^tZderness an^ t/ze
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, Z)es^<yn
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', Tr^M^rz/

(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 zzof p<9 /ar orozz^Zz.

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
for /zzzzzzor

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,
F-z^/zt /or z^/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 natural

items would not affect others (a^oT^terfereMcg assMwpf^^).
it may, the

Be this as

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,
18 Humanization, and humanitarian measures, may be a cloak for human
chauvinism - in which case, far from being virtuous, they may be
positively undesirable.
19 Also, as Leopold has observed, the class of
has been
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
rarely further in the West until recently.
20 The assumption is not the same as its relative, Benn's
'that no one may legitimately frustrate or prevent
(or interfere with) a person's doing what he chooses to do, ^nles
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
ofPfhe 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 given 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.


GrozjZ/z <2%^


T/ze ^oZz^ZZc^ ^gcowgs

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


- 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 -Zs 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


spgcZyZc ethic,

is ambiguous, as between a specific ethical system, a

and a more generic notion, a

specific ethics are grouped.

under which

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

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

An ^Z/zZcaZ sz/sZsw 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




appropriately general criteria for rationality will not reduce this

class to a singleton.

Accordingly, there is logical space for a^terrzaf^re

A general or lawlike proposition of a system (characterised along
similar lines to a scientific law) is a pr^Mc^pZe;

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 super-


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
A recent formulation of this principle runs as
follows (Barkley and Seckier, op. cit., p.58):

dominant position.

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 <2 person's
(foes no^ ^n^er/ere zJ-^/z o^/zers,

^s perw^ss^&^e provt^e^

(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.

Moreover 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, ozzZz/ in respect of
those actions of each, which concern the interest of o^Zzer
people (J.S. Mill, (/^^Z^^ar^uzz^szzzj L^&gr^z/ az-z^f 7?eprese?z^az^zze
^ozz6r?z777g?z^, 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 /cr Cofz^ttz^uZ-z^z/, 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; it
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
poss^bZe 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, m-z^or


o/ t/ze zzzu^M arpz^g?^

An important case concerns the treatment of animals.

Unless (D) is construed widely (extending 'other'), or hedged by further
qualifying clauses,24 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 per^ss^Me Tzurzzz to

and familiar conflict issues arise.


For the core principle (D), 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

22 Although the interests and preferences of past others are excluded in
conventional utilitarianism, as in (welfare) economic theory and vot
inq 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.

23 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',
for publication in 1974; still forthcoming?), can be used to show this.

24 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).

main argument - upon at most simple variation of the counterexamples to
be given.
Modification becomes more important in the case of standard ethical

theories which lead to principles conflicting with (D), such as utilitar­
ianism does unless (D) and the maximisation principle of utilitarianism
are appropriately segregated, e.g. by severing connections at some point

in the chain connecting entitlement, permissibility, right, maximum


For, as in widely recognised, net utility may be increased in

ways that violate (D), e.g. by injustice to, or the infliction of suffer­
ing upon, or harming, some individual by others.

Thus utilitarianisms in

the tradition of Mill, which both include (D) and characterise entitlement

in utilitarian terms, are inconsistent (as simple hypothetical cases show).
To avoid counterexamples it is not enough merely to distinguish higher and
lower utilities, though this is an initial step in what is required, namely
- ideally by constraints (as is explained in §5) - o/


Although qualification of utilitar­

ianism principles to ensure (D), as a restriction (but not the orzZz/

restriction) on what is permissible,is the proper course, it is a course
not all utilitarians are prepared to follow.

To defeat

isms, it is not enough to adduce counterexamples to (D).



to some other core principle of such utilitarianisms must be located;
otherwise the main argument fails against a quite standard, and important,
class of positions supporting chauvinism and the Dominion thesis.



neither a suitable core principle nor appropriate

counterexamples are hard to find.

The common utilitarian principle

provides such a core, and several of the examples directed against (D)
serve to counter it (in its various forms).
An axiological principle corresponding to (D)

(%72<i to some of its

variants) runs along these lines:
(A) Only those objects which are of use or concern to humans

(or persons), or which are the product of human (or person)
labour or ingenuity, are of value;

thus these are all that

need to be taken into account in determining best choice or
best course of action, what is good, etc.

Roughly, value consists in answering back to certain features of human (or
person) involvement.

No calculus of value or what is best need look

beyond human values.

According to a matching value-ranking thesis, item

a is better than b only if a serves human concerns more than b.


narrower version of principle (A) embedded in main forms of Marxism is


the human labour theory of value.


Thus a corollary will be that

Marxism is certainly - unless severely modified - no direction in which

to seek an environmental ethic or social theory.
There may appear to be exceptions to principle (A) in such objects

But although values are assigned to works of art where

as works of art.

these may not positively affect human welfare, the basis for assigning

value is usually taken to be the human skill or ingenuity involved in

their production.
principle (A).

Hence such assignments do not extend, or violate,

Indeed the problem raised by natural objects which cost

nothing to produce and involved nothing human is very different from the
matter of valuing art objects.

objects rctse <2


There are also other important differences between natural objects and

works of art, apart from the characteristic

noninvolvement of humans,

namely those turning on the issues of replaceability and the reversibility

of destruction.

Human artefacts are always replaceable by similar objects,

e.g. modern cities, especially concrete jungles are all too similar and

replaceable, and using modern techniques paintings can be substanially

whereas there is no possibility of replicating, even remotely,

such as extinct species or real

damaged or destroyed natural objects

jungles (or lost or vanishing cultures).

In terms of replacement costs,

these are much more valuable than such human artefacts as material works

of art.

Thus attempts to assimilate natural objects to material works of

art break down.

There is an additional reason for rejecting a now familiar

approach to natural objects through works of art, namely that it is

premissed on the assumption that some sort of chauvinistic account of

works of art is adequate:

that is not so, as the (intermediate) situation

of objet trouve begins to reveal.
It is in connection with principles

qualification to

(D) and especially (A) that the

ethics (already required at several points)

becomes important for the argument;

for various non-Western ethics have

not adopted these principles, e.g. both American Indians and Australian

Aborigines appear to recognise clearly values in natural items which are

not reducible (simply or at all) to human values - and apparently not
essentially theistic (supra-human).

In any case Western ethics and

25 According to some Marxists, and apparently to Marx, the labour theory
is superceded when the period of accumulation is completed and the post­
scarcity era reached.
But by the time this high-energy high-tech
stage is reached, if ever, irreparable and frequently irreversible
environmental damage will have been wreaked.

On next page.



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 m 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 sows environ­
mentally valuable things unnecessarily (without due reason or some need).

(ii) The Zest pgopZe 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

One considers the last people in

blocked any chance of reproduction.

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.

On next page.


(iii) The ^reu^ eTz^repr^KeMr 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

socket!/ example (iv):

the society looks depressingly like ours except for its reproductive

(v) The

species 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

28 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

29 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 sorts of 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.^O

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 /actorz/ /arm 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
The treatment of the animals on the farm

environmental ethic it is not.

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


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

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.

(Compare the situation

before the change from an ethic which sanctioned Tzu/na??. slavery.)



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 so forth;

and changes with change of ethic.

A new ethic is needed not merely to accommodate the evaluations,

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 felt,



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 ezzzz*Zr<9zzwe7zfaZ.
be %%-z^MeZz/ (ie^grzzz-Zzzg^, or adopted by every valuer.

will zzct

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 elimination

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.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

/zz^scozzcept^oTZS 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 PpnaZ^fz/
ipz^erTzaz^ozzaZ u?Z(Z Comparative t/vrisprz/devce (ed. G. Dorsey) , Oceana
Publications, New York, 1977, pp.431-42.
The apposite term 'emotional presentation' is adapted from Meinong;
see especially Ov FmotiozzaZ Presentation (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).

Althouth 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.

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

(such as P. and


A. Erlich's

Freeman, San Francisco, 1970, to select one example), which are set
e/zf-ZreZz/ within the chauvinistic framework.

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


an environmental ethic does not differ in practice from that of more
conventional "chauvinistic" ethics, there is point in spelling out in
Firstly, many conventional

yet other ways how it can differ in practice:

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.


is, the usual argument depends on the reduction of value of a natural
item to the interests of present and /nfure 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 (non-

immediate) future.
Secondly, as we have already seen through examples, there are
practical differences between an environmental ethic and conventional

instrumental views which do 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.

Example 1.

We need only consider the operation of
zJorZd, for example, the concept of damapo to a natural

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

C. Stone, for instance, in STzo^Zd Troes



Towards LepaZ.

/"or ZVufMraZ- Objocfs (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 sZuue not the

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.

Example 2.
The believer in intrinsic values may avoid making unnecessary
and excessive noise in the forest, out of respect for the forest and its
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


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

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


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,

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.36

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. Al37
though the first premiss, or something like it, is widely endorsed,

Passmore (c) op. cit., p.438.

According to Passmore (p.431),

By common consent, there are four major ecological problems:
pollution, the exhaustion of resources, the destruction of
species, and overpopulation ...
To solve such problems involves finding a way either of altering
types of human conduct or of preventing that human conduct from
having its present consequences.

In what follows the assumption that 'there are four major ecological
problems' gets rejected.
36 This implies only, that a new ethic is necessary for solving
environmental problems, and not of course that it is

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'.^
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
What is not immediately evident is

persist or, more likely, intensify.

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,
Potomac Associates, Washington, D.C., 1972.

PtwZts to CrozjtT?,

R.A. Falk, 'Anarchism and world order', Pornos IX, 1978, p.66. Falk
refers for the case to B.Commoner, TPs CZosZ^p CZroZo, Knopf, New York,
R.A. Falk, T/zZs
PZo^ot, Random House, New York. 1971;
E. Goldsmith and others EZMoprZut /or F^rvZ^aZ, Houghton and Miflin,
Boston, 1972, and Meadows et aZ., 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, ^yz i/ze sazzze /as/z^oM

peopZ-e, 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 in which 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', Irz^z^rz/, 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 Moi imply that no
chauvinistic arguments - or rafTzsr, 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 sTzaZZozj and Fesp ecology, between those who see conservation
as just a matter of wiser, better-controlled

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
gzEpZo^a^opz view, which is

first view, the long-term or

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 'zjFss Mse oy resoMrcss', 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 Fustrz^gnPaZ- value, i.e. of how
far we are dependent on them and they are of

to us.

There is no

recognition either that some items might be valuable precisely
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
e.g. 'conservation
is the use of resources to the greatest advantage of man', 4 Furvez/ py
ParP FT.
Foresfrz/ Pe^gZ.opz7?e?2^ PZ-arz. 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 for
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 zzzMc/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.43 Really, that is,

they consider wildernesses intrinsically valuable, but have been pushed
by the prevailing ethical ethos

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 zjfZ-demess 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 sofne 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 manage44
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
44 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,

Nature Moralisms, do just that, assign intrinsic,


value to natural items, such as - on some versions of the position wilderness.

[An] alternative perspective ...

[to] the theme of wise use



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.
to the economic ethos of Resource

In contrast

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


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, Stone. 46 It also includes Darwin's ethic and Leopold s
"land ethic".
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).4^

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,
.4 ZVozJ
Random House, New York, 1975;

for (7%r
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 m
C. Darwin,
of Muzz, Second edition, J. Murray, London, 1883.
4 8 On next page.



Then the counterexamples apply as before

last people themselves.

against the liberation positions.

It is unnecessary to go quite so far afield to fault such positions,
at least in practice:

as Rodman might put it, they are countered by the

facts of experience:

... 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
or sentient, objects).

derives from experience (of experiential,

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 time, 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

50 See Rodman's discussion, pp.92-3.
But Rodman overstates his case m
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
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:-


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
for human ends tends to lead and has led.

The mistaken treatment of them

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.

For a

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.
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
51 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

grounds and evaluative judgments based upon them are queried.


trouble, characteristic of reductionism, arises from the mistaken attempt

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
, 52
features (e.g. to be good is just to have certain natural features).

52 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
yrow TVozj/zgre, 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


Conscience and the State would have operated "naturally

by God,
(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 (T<2<9 T6
, #18)

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

Given prevailing socio-economic conditions it should be rather: that
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.
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.
procedure points in the direction to be pursued:


replacement of the over-

simple 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

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 athreat 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 seZ/, without its
classic homocentric bias) is however extremely important:

account of the

it is an

which is not a separate subject

isolated from its (natural) environment (as a Humean individual is),


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,

then, the reasons for resistance.

A resister 'does not stand over against

"his environment" as manager, sight-seer, or do-gooder;

he is an

integral part of [it]' ((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.

an esthetic religiosity have


Economics, morality, and

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 f/z-fs 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 verz/ 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.

S'? 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.




It is not necessary for an environmental ethic to take a set position

on all the issues so far raised for environmental ethics (or others, such
as whether, and if so which, ecological principles should be integrated

for example, it does not

with the ethical system) ;

to decide exactly

But it can hardly avoid determining

which items do or can have rights.

some of the boundaries in a way different from conventional ethics if it

is to count as an environmental ethic.

In particular, the issues of what

sort of items have or carry noninstrumental value, and how they obtain it,

cannot be escaped indefinitely.

Without the assignment of (intrinsic)

value to some items independent of the states and conditions of humans,

an ethic would remain within the confines of human chauvinism.

But how,

it is all too often asked, is such an assignment possible, or rational?

In any case, the environmental examples already relied upon (in §3) pre­


the assignment of intrinsic value to nonhuman, and to nonsentient
So a theory of value is not only unavoidable but owed.

that can be adopted on an environmental

Of the many accounts of

ethic, the following has much to recommend it:-

Some values are instru­

mental, i.e. a means or an instrument to something else that has value,
and some are not, but are non-instrumental or intrinsic.

Some values at

least must be intrinsic, some objects valuable in themselves and not as a

means to other ends.
not, however, imply

That a value is (reckoned to be) intrinsic does





or system independent;


values that are intrinsic on one ethical theory may be instrumental or
relative on another. More controversially, values may be
in one

way or another, on other things, on other values or, importantly, on non­

values (such as experiences or felt needs, or facts or natural objects);
but while some values are reducible to others, others are not but are

That is, contrary to naturalism and to other forms of
reductionism such as subjectivism, some values are irreducible.
analogues of the naturalistic and prescriptive fallacies, formulated in


terms of 'valuable', are fallacies.

In particular, evaluative judgments,
such as those as to what is valuable, are not deducible from nonvaluative
judgments, such as those as to what is conventionally valued or what is
That values in natural items are intrinsic does not imply

that they are naturalistic.


Indeed intrinsic value cannot - on pain of
- amount to being natural, or reduce

to the experiences of humans or of sentient creatures, to their suffering

or happiness or preferences.


On next page.


Although some of these things, some of these experiences,
some do not, but have no value, or a negative value or disvalue;



some things, e.g. some experiences or some natural objects, have more
value (are more valuable) than others.
of value, but by no means everything is.

Almost anything can be an object
Value is distributed unevenly

throughout the universe in something the way that electrical charge is;
some items have positive quantities of varying degrees of intensity (e.g.
a thundercloud may carry a positive charge, and have positive value), some

negative, and some none.

There are however important differences:


rical charge is a quantitative notion, value a qualitative, comparative,
charges are always commensurable, values less certainly or straight­
forwardly so;60 and the distribution of values (and especially of

intrinsic values) is much more theory (system, or viewpoint) relative than
.the di^sbributtdn of charges.

For example, on an environmental view, matiy

of the plants Mr Last Man eliminates have (intrinsic) value, whereas on

animal liberation (usual animal chauvinist) views the plants have no value
if no animals remain:

there would be no similar disagreement about

whether the plants were electrically charged.

Evaluative features such

as worth, merit, beauty are features which behave in rather the way that

philosophers of science now mistakenly suppose that


empirical features

they do not have a hard observational basis but are decidedly

theory-dependent, though the theories involved are evaluative in character
and not empirical.

To assert that value or redness or remoteness is distributed through
the universe is not to imply that these features, value or redness or

For an outline of how this nondeducibility thesis, which yields a
nondefinability thesis, may be proved (in limited contexts), see the
final section of R. and V. Routley, 'The semantics of first degree
entailment', ZVoMS, 6 (1972), pp. 335-59.

A simpler argument against naturalistic reducibility of values is a
consequence of the intensionality of values and the fact that intensional notions cannot be extensionally analysed (syntactically), which
is what naturalistism characteristically assumes.

Strictly the account of instrumental value should be widened if
disvalues as well as (positive) values are to be taken proper account

That is, mcrg
may be at best a partial order, and so an
inadequate basis on which to define total utility functions, and on
which to rationally reconstruct modern economic theory.
If this is so,
as Godfrey Smith has suggested, and the orderings cannot be completed,
applications of the optimistisation models subsequently introduced will
have to work with partial functions.

remoteness, exist,

or are to be found in the universe.

undermines much criticism of nonsubjective values;

The point alone

for example, Mackie's

empiricist case is premissed on the false assumption that the existence
of values

is necessary to objectivism, which he does not distinguish

from nonsubjectivism.

Mackie's "argument from queernessis similarly

broken at the outset:

since values are not entities at all, they are not

strange sorts of entities.

To see how unpersuasive Mackie's argument

should be, replace '(objective) values' throughout by, e.g.,



They too would be 'utterly different from'anything in Mackie's
but that does not show that there are no transfinite ordinals.

Thus too, since values are not entities, the account of value being
developed is Met a reaZ-Zst one (in the ordinary sense).62
Values, of one sort or another, are features objects may have or


they are not subjective, they are not features which reduce to

states or conditions of subjects or valuers.

But no more are they object­

ive features, natural or empirical features of objects, features entirely

detached from valuers.

A largely unquestioned false dichotomy between

subjective and objective ethical theories has served to rule out important
options (it has been helped by a connected false dichotomy between

instrumental and detached accounts of value:

see Routley (b)).

In simplest terms, an objective account of value has values "located"

in objects entirely independently of valuers, in the way that (inertial)

mass is located in physical objects independently of observers;


satisfactorily, objects have values and masses irrespective of valuers or

Objectivism forces intuitionism, when it is inquired how

values are apprehended or known;

thus a fuller objective theory is almost

always accompanied by an account, so far always unsatisfactory,
61 The position is that for properties and relations argued in (e)
R. Routley,
EepcTX'd, RSSS, Australian
National University, 1979.
Such objects do not exist, but they have
important theoretical, explanatory, and other roles.

62 j.c. Mackie, Ft/zZcs.
especially pp.38-9.


Penguin, 1977;


62 So undermining 0K6 part of D. Mannison's claim that we

want to defend a reaZ-Zst theory of values, i.e. a theory of values
that accounts for the truth of "x has value" with no ineliminable
reference to the interests and concerns of the evaluating group
('Critique of a proposal for an "environmental ethic'", this
The further parts of Mannison's claim are assessed in what immediately
follows. We are indebted to Mannison for forcing us to try to work
out what is wrong and right about detached value theses.


characteristically modelled on sense perception, of the way in which
values are intuited or apprehended.
It is also regularly assumed on
objective accounts that values exist, in the world;
noneism) that is a separable assumption.

but evidently (given

By contrast, a subjective

account finds values in, or not independent of, actual subjects, and

commonly as linked with the pyschological states of valuers.


subjectivism, like objectivism, comes in a variety of forms, it is always
required that where an item is valued there exists, at sometime or other,
a valuer who values it:

"no values without a valuer" holds, in a strong,

an excessively strong,implausible and erroneous, form;

namely, a world

without existing valuers in it is, by that very fact, a world without

Fortunately - since both objectivisms and subjectivisms suffer

from serious, and mostly well-known, defects - the positions are not
The way between is perhaps best revealed in terms of alter­
native worlds.65 Although values in a world (more precisely, that items

in that world a have evaluative features) always depend upon a valuer

existing in sows world, the valuer may not exist in the world of the

(i.e. the valuer may not exist in a).

For example, our claim that

a certain world without valuers, e.g. a pure plant world of botanically

rich form, is a fine world, depends on our existing in this world (in

order to make the claim, in fact);
"make sense"

but it does not demand in order to

(of course the claim is significant) or to be true, what is

ex hypothesis ruled out, the existence of valuers in the pure plant world.
That the world is a fine one, is dependent on a valuer in some world (and

that valuer's assessments of value and, if you like, theory or overview
of what is valuable and not);

by contrast, that the world contains only

plants of this or that leaf type, biomass or colour, does not depend upon
a perceiver.66 since values are not entirely independent of a valuer in
the way that empirical properties are independent of an observer, the

An important corollary is that

resulting account is not objective.

transworld evaluation does not require objectivism, nor (as we shall see)

Call the resulting account, which is neither objective nor,
(short for, neither objective nor

as is evident, subjective,

the term is ugly but memorable).

For a fuller account and worthwhile criticism, see N. Smith,
Penguin, 1954.
The use of worlds in ethical theorising, which is old, soon leads into
world semantical analyses of ethical notions, which is newer but will
also be taken for granted: it is ^problematic.
On next page.


The replacement of the (no detachable values) thesis,

There are no values without a valuer,
by the revised thesis,
(1°) There are no values which are entirely independent of a valuer,

still affords the requisite semantical connections between values and

valuers subjectivists have been at pains to maintain, still allows for
the requisite theory dependence and cultural relativity of values, and

still avoids the extravagances of objectivism.

The replacement enables

the defeat of various sophistical arguments designed to show, in virtue

of the conceptual character of evaluative terms, that the case so far

presented against human (or person) chauvinism collapses.
argument of this sort

runs thus:

A simple

Objectivism is untenable;

but that

leaves subjectivism, which validates (1), as the only alternative; and
subjectivism undermines the counterexamples to chauvinism.6&
One defect

of this argument lies in the assumption that a theory can just dispose of

counterexamples, when commonly examples are harder data than any theory.
Note that the difference between evaluative and empirical properties
is not adequately explained counterfactually:
if an appropriate valuer
- it cannot be an arbitrarily chosen valuer - were placed in the world
it would rate the world fine, to be sure; but equally a suitable
observer would perceive perceptual properties.
Both these things
objectivism can quite well allow. Partly for this reason Rescher's
attempt to maintain his initially subjectivist thesis that value must
be benefit-oriented, while admitting Moore's comparison of unoccupied
worlds, is unsuccessful.
Rescher's thesis really gets modified to:
value must be potential-benefit-oriented - with which an objectivist
might well agree, since it becomes a truism if 'benefit' is construed
sufficiently widely (e.g. as 'value'), once unscrambled counterfactually
thus:the unseen sunset has aesthetic value because of the potential
benefits it affords ... [i.e.]
someone were placed on to such a
world, he
be able to appreciate and enjoy this sunset.
(N. Rescher,
Prentice Hill, 1969 ,
But insofar as Rescher wants to suggest that value comes down to
potential-benefit-orientation, that the unseen sunset has value jMst
because of the potential benefits, which are entirely captured counter­
factually, objectivists will rightly object; even if no one were
placed in this world, the sunset which delivered no benefits
world, would still have value, still be beautiful.
In short, a counterfactually-extended subjectivism remains inadequate.
The requisite relation of entire independence is explained semantically
in terms of worlds.
The truth of A is not entirely independent of b
iff, in every model, for every world of the model in which A holds
there is some world of the model in which b exists.
The valuer of (1°)
need not exist; it is only required (in each model) that it exist in
some world.

Such an argument appears, in essentials, in R. Elliot,
species?', this publication.

'Why preserve


Such a procedure is methodologically unsound.
In this case the examples
tell against subjectivism, and point to another defect in the theoretical
argument, namely the reliance on the false objective/subjective dichotomy.
It has been objected 69 that the nonjective way between subjective and
objective is unsatisfactory, for the reason that (1°) results in
unacceptible assignments of value.

But the objection depends upon under­

standing 'a valuer' in (1°) not in the intended way, as 'a certain (or
definite) valuer' , the determination of valuer being

MpoM the

values concerned, but as a choice term, as 'an arbitrarily chosen valuer',
or 'some valuer or other (you choose)' - which would require, what can

never happen, that every hypothetical valuer agrees in the values assigned.
A precisely similar misunderstanding of (1) likewise gives strange results:
namely that any state of affairs, however environmentally appalling, is
valuable because we can find a valuer, e.g. a spokesman for your local

development association., who would account it valuable.
understood yields no such bizarre results:

But (1) properly

all it guarantees is that,

where a state of affairs has a value then there is a certain valuer
(zj/z^cT? depending upon the state of affairs and the value assigned, i.e.

the choice is heavily constrained) who assigns that value to that state.

Similarly in the case of (1°) choice of appropriate valuers is a dependent

choice, not an arbitrary one.
There are several, deeper (because metaphysically grounded),
sophistical arguments that conclude on the basis of (1) among other
things, that human, or at least person, chauvinism is unavoidable.

These arguments too fail with (1).

It is simply a (common) mistake to

think that values and rights do not have a meaning, or an application,

outside the human context or situation:

to establish this point (on

which Moore rightly insisted) it is enough to point out again that

(hypothetical) valuers, not necessarily human or persons, can assign

For example by R. Elliot op. cit.
Elliot's objection depends on a
The original draft of this paper pointed out that
principle (1)
is strictly mistaken: it would be a little more accurate to assert
that there are no values without possible valuers. A world in which
there are no valuers extant may still contain valuable items.
It does not follow from this, what Elliot infers, that 'a state of
affairs has value if it is such that it would be valued by some
sentient individual if such an individual were to exist', with 'some'
read 'some or other'.

70 These arguments are examined in detail in Routley (a), and found
The objections there lodged apply equally against variations
of the arguments built on (1°) . What follows in the text on sorne of
these arguments is largely a condensation of some of the points
developed more fully there.




values with respect to situations and worlds devoid of humans and of
persons altogether.

But though these deeper arguments strictly fail

with the demise of (1), they can be readily restated in terms of (1°),
which can equally be taken (given further assumptions) to support the

thesis that persons (or preference-havers)

are the primary items of

value or, more strongly, that persons are the ozzZ-y items of intrinsic

One of these arguments relies on the idea that persons are the

source of value.

But the argument trades on an ambiguity.

A person is

the source of value-judgements and values in one sense, i.e. s/he is the

but not in another, namely s/he is not responsible for valued

item having its valued properties.

Nor is there any licence for reducing

the values assigned to those that serve the interests of the valuer.


argument is likely to be given the following sort of initial elaboration:

By (1°), whatever has a value has its value in virtue of an assignment
from certain valuers.

But valuers are always persons.

The argument is however

ever has a value gets its value from persons.


Therefore what­

For even if values were always assigned by persons the items

their values from persons

assigned values do not thereby yet or

(or those of persons).

They have what value they have partly in virtue

of features of their own.
Nonetheless, the argument continues, the empirical features of

objects valued are relevant because they are taken into account in

preference rankings on which valuers base their assignments.

By (1°)


a derivative) values are relational properties not properties simpliciter

as objectivism would have it.

They are relational properties which

depend on certain features of the related item.

Which features, of values?

Well, obviously, preferences and interests of valuers.

So, it is con­

cluded, values answer to, or reduce to, interests of persons:
no alternative to chauvinism.

there is

Rather similar arguments lead to such

(mistaken) conclusions as that rights are interest-oriented, that
obligations must answer to people's interests,
etc. etc.
The arguments

can furthermore - in case the transit seemed excessively swift - be
filled out, for example as follows:

By (1°),

Thus, e.g. K. Baier, T/ze AforczZ Po^yzt o/
Ithaca, 1958.


Cornell University Press,


Values depend upon valuers, upon their value assignments
or rankings.


These value rankings depend upon valuers' preference



Values depend upon, or are determined through, the preference
rankings of valuers.


Valuers' preference rankings are determined through valuers'


Valuers are humans [persons].



Values are determined through, or depend upon, human [or
persons'] interests.

Hence, it is sometimes concluded, not only is it perfectly acceptable for
humans to reduce matters of value and morality to matters of human,
interest, there is no rational or feasible alternative to doing so:


alternative to chauvinism is simply incoherent.
With the replacement of (1) by (1°), premiss (C) is rendered

implausible unless 'human' is supplanted by 'person'

(where the variable

'person' is so characterised that all valuers are persons, something some

accounts of person would rule out).

Thus, without (1), the argument

leads at best to person chauvinism.

Nor does -B follow from (1°):


entirely independent of" does not imply "dependent upon", but at best
"partially dependent upon".

However it does seem that values are, in a

sense, determined through value assignments - assignments made certainly

in virtue of features of the objects valued and of preference rankings of
valuers, that is having dual factual and attitudinal bases - but assign­

ments nevertheless.

Accordingly, the central part of the argument can be

reformulated, in a way which locates the main source of damage, thus


Values are determined through value assignments [preference
rankings] of valuers.


The value assignments [preference ranking] of valuers are

determined through valuers' interests.
In order to reach what amounts to chauvinism


from B', however,


has to be narrowly construed, after the fashion of egoism, as 'own, self-

centred or selfish, interest'.

Otherwise the conclusion,

Values are determined through valuers' interests,

Many variations on this argument are considered in Routley (a); and
obviously there are yet other variations, e.g. value assignments could
be directly linked with interests.
On next page.




is innocuous;

it does nothing to confine what determines value, to

For valuers' interests may concern almost anything, and in

particular may include the interests of nonvaluers(as in 'its interest
is among my interests') and the welfare of natural systems.
understood, is no more chauvinistic than:

D', so

Values are value-centred.


succeed the argument has to narrow the elements assessed in determining
value to features of the base class of persons [or humans];
their interests and welfare alone.

e.g. to

For if we have to look beyond this

class to assess value - even to determine interests and welfare - then
the argument to chauvinism fails. Thus the argument has, in order to suc­
ceed, to rely upon assumptions either of egoism - valuers' interests are

restricted to their own (perhaps enlightened) self-interest - or of a

group analogue - valuers' interests are restricted to those of the group,
the base class - where (to indicate the final trick in the argument)

there is, in each case, a slide on the elastic term 'interests', e.g.

from ^?z) f/z^r ozjzz
ozjyz Mses or purposes.


t/z^^r ozjzz u^urztape., or


It is evident enough that in order to succeed the

argument has to assume one of the very points at issue, that interests,

which are progressively restricted to chauvinistic interests, are so
restricted.74 But consider, to expose the character of the assumptions
made, parallel arguments to egoism and groupism, i.e. group egoism:


Persons always act (in freely chosen cases, or rational cases)

in the way they prefer or choose, i.e. in accord with their

(revealed) preference rankings.

Individual [group] preference rankings are always determined

through (reflect) self [group] interest.

71 What amounts to chauvinism; for if a position were reached in
way by a sound argument, then the position would not be chauvinistic,
being justified. For this reason, it is absurd for a rational creature
to present itself (as some philosophers have) as a human chauvinist or
a person chauvinist.

There is however a descriptive analogue of chauvinism, in which the
justificatory clause is omitted; and this use of 'chauvinism' we have
resorted to ourselves (as the astute reader will have observed) as an
interim step.
In the end of course such descriptive-chauvinism is
chauvinism, since the discrimination involved is unwarranted.
74 The claim generalises: it is not possible to mount an argument for
person [or human] chauvinism on the basis of the meaning, or analysis,
of such notions as, o^Z^pa^o/z or r^pTzf or
without assuming, in
the analysis or the course of the argument, the very points at issue.
This is an outcome of the viability of nonchauvinistic analyses of
these notions, together with the content preservation character of
genuine deductive arguments.


Individual persons [groups of persons] always act in ways

determined in their own self [group] interests (or that

reflect their own interest^).
Thereafter follows the slide from "in their own interests" to "to their

own advantage", or "for their own uses or purposes".

The eventual con­

clusion of egoism, again parallelling the class chauvinism case, is not
only that the egoistic position is perfectly in order and thoroughly

rational, but that there are no alternatives;
least ought to be, no other way of acting,

that is, there is, or at

'that men can only choose to

do what is in their own interests or that it is only rational to do

Thus,person or (human) chauvinism, as based.on the central argument,
stands revealed as like group selfishness, "group egoism" one might

almost say.

Likewise the criticisms of the

as we shall now call the argument through D or D', parallel those of


in particular, premiss B'

to those that defeat premiss BE.

(or B) succumbs to similar objections
Group selfishness is no more acceptable

than egoism, since it depends on exactly the same set of confusions
between values, preferences, interests, and advantages (encouraged by
slippery terms such as 'interests' and 'self-interest') as the arguments
on which egoism rests.
Briefly, because one may discern or select one's own preference or
value rankings, it does not follow that these rankings are set up or

selected in one's own selfish (or enlightened self) interests;


in group cases, because a group determines its own rankings, it does not
follow that it determines them in its own interests;

the group includes environmental individuals.

certainly not if

Thus just as BE is refuted,

at least prima facie, by a range of examples where preference, and value,

rankings run counter to self-regarding interest, e.g. cases of otherregarding interest or altruism, so prima facie at least, B is refuted by
examples where value, and also overall preference rankings, vary from

group interests, e.g. cases of group altruism and extra-group-regarding
interests, as in resistance movements, environmental action groups, and
so on.

It is often in selfish human interests (no less selfish because

pertaining to a group) to open up and develop the wilderness, strip mine
the earth, exploit animals, and so on, but ecological resistance workers
Nowell Smith, op. cit., p.140. Nowell-Smith's very appealing critique
of egoism (pp.140-44) may, by simple paraphrase, be converted into a
critique of group selfishness.
This is obvious once B' and BE are


who oppose doing so are commonly not acting just out of (their own or)
human intragroup interests, but out of direct concern for the environment
and its welfare.

But, just as BE is not demolished by such counterexamples of
apparently other-regarding and altruistic action, neither is B:

in each

case it can be made out that further selfish (i.e. self-regarding) inter­
ests are involved, e.g., in the case of B, that an agent did what he did,

an altruistic action, because he
in the egoism case,

doing it.

As Nowell-Smith explains

'interest' is written in as an internal accusative,

thereby rendering such theses as BE true at the cost, however, of trivial-

More generally, valuing something gets written in as a
further sort of "interest"; whatever valuers value that does not seem to

ising them.

be in their interests is said to provide a further interest, either the
value itself or an invented value surrogate;

for example, the environ­

mentalist who works to retain a wilderness he never expects to see may be
said to be so acting only because he has an interest in or derives

benefit or advantage from just knowing it exists, just as he would be

said to in the egoist case.


By such strategies the theses can be

for then a valued item really is in valuers' interests, in

the extended sense, even if they are in obvious ways seriously incon­

venienced by it, i.e. even if it is Mot in their narrow interests in the

customary sense.

Thus B, like BE, is preserved by stretching the

elastic term 'interests', in a way that it too readily admits, to include
values, or value surrogates, among interests.

Then however the conclus­

ion of the Group Selfishness argument loses its intended force, and
becomes the platitude that values are determined through valuers' values,
just as egoism, under the extension which makes us all covert egoists,

loses its sting and becomes a platitude.

Human chauvinism in this form,

like egoism, derives its plausibility from vacillation on the sense of

'interests', with a resulting fluctuation between a strong false thesis
when interests are narrowed through group interests to group restricted

interests - the real face of human chauvinism - and a trivial analytic

thesis, between paradox and platitude.
To reject the reductionist conclusion D, or D', is by no means to be
committed to the view that the valuers and their preference rankings play

%<? role in determining values and that values are a further set of

In the sense of Wisdom's (meta)philosophy.
The technique of rescuing
philosophical theses by shifts, which begin with natural extensions of
terms, enforced by accompanying redefinitions of terms - including the
thesis "We're all selfish really" - is delightfully explained in
J. Wisdom, dt/zer
Blackwell, Oxford, 1952, especially chapter 1.

mysterious independent items somehow perceived by valuers through a
special (even mystical and non-rational) moral sense.

An intuitionist

theory of value is not required, and is not lurking in the background.
One can simply admit that valuers' preference rankings play an important

role in evaluation;

one is not thereby committed to D unless one assumes

- what amounts to premiss B - that these preference rankings reflect, or
can be reduced to, valuers'

(narrow) interests.

Even so important

problems remain unresolved, in particular, precisely what role valuers'

preference-rankings play, and how this role enables the damaging features
of intuitionism to be avoided.
The arguments against genuinely environmental ethics from the

character of

are sometimes followed up by the objection that such

a ethic can be given no, or no satisfactory, theory of value (or metaethic, to.use the current, but questionable, jargon transferred from
logical theory).

It is true that several theories of value are quickly

ruled out, including mainstream noncognitive theories, which are objection­

ably chauvinistic, allowing no non-instrumental value to any non-sentient
natural items.

While an environmental ethic, like almost any other

normative ethic, ca?? be supplied with an intuitionist theory of value,

an environmental ethic, unlike most other ethics, wa?/ appear to have no
option to such a theory, though the theory is unsatisfactory and causes
especial problems for the ethic. 75 The unsatisfactoriness of intuitionism
is in part for the usual reasons:

apart from the perceptual comparison

which is problematic in several ways (e.g. evaluative properties are not

like perceptual properties, the moral sense is rather different from
other senses), the theory is (like a purely axiomatic theory) too much of
a black box, which gives no explanation of many things that call for

explanation, e.g. the semantics of value, how value judgements are based
on factual and emotional or attitudinal bases;

but it is in part because

intuitionism provides little guidance or assistance in accounting for the
intrinsic value of environmental objects.
These difficulties can be evaded and the problems largely resolved

through a semantical theory of value, and more generally of ethical terms.

Thus D. Mannison, 'the "new environmental ethic" is ... irredeemably
intuitionistic' (op. cit.), and H.J. McCloskey:

As far as I can see of the known, plausible meta-ethics, the only
one available ... is an intuitionist one.
... [There] would still
be ... the problem of associating it with a non-human-centred
normative ethic, one which did not locate all values in human
capacities states, goods, but accorded to environmental phenomena
value in their own right. ('Ecological ethics and its justification:
a critical appraisal', this volume.)

For the truth-conditions, 7 8 and resulting interpretation conditions,

will supply an account of meaning not only of axiological expressions
but also of deontic expressions, and moreover in a way that is plainly


e.g., it enables natural items to be awarded intrinsic

value in much the way that states or conditions of humans are on
chauvinistic theories.

Something of the shape and character of the semantical analyses
emerges from the evaluation rules for important axiological and deontic
The semantics are set within the framework of the semantics
of entailment:

in this way several paradoxes possible world semantics

induces in deontic (and axiological) theory are automatically removed.

The semantical analyses of the central axiological functor,

'that ... is

better than that __ ', abbreviated 'Bt', and the key deontic predicate

'that ... is permissible', abbreviated 'P', restricted to sentential
terms, take respectively the following forms:
I(A Bt B, a) = 1 iff [B]


[A], where [C] = {c e K:

I(C, c) =1},

[C] is the range of C, the class of situations where C holds, some­

times called the proposition C expresses.

In short, that A is better
than that B holds in world a iff from the perspective of a, the proposition
B expresses is less preferable than the proposition A expresses, where
the ordering relation is spelt out in terms of a preference ranking.

I(PA, a) = 1 iff, for some world b such that Tab, I(A, b) = 1;
i.e., that A is permissible holds in a iff for some world b permitted as

far as a is concerned, A holds in b - where the relation T is spelt out in

terms of a relative permittedness relation.
Enough of the semantical theory has been exposed to indicate some

important features.

Firstly, betterness - and something the same holds

for other value terms - is assessed semantically in terms of a world-

relativised preference ranking.

In the simplest case, where betterness is

assessed as to truth (rather than interpretation, or meaning), i.e. at

actual world T, the assessment just is in terms of a preference ranking
(so validating a form of premiss B above, for a technical sense of

Ethical judgements, both axiological and deontic, have truth values,
relative to their context of occurrence. By use of context, objections,
e.g. from relativity, to the attribution of truth-values to such
judgements can be straightforwardly avoided.

79 Full details of the semantics are presented elsewhere, in Routley (c),
and in R. Routley, R.K. Meyer, and others, PeZevuzzf
P-ZfaZs, RSSS, Australian National University, 1979.


Secondly, the semantics of

can be given in

descriptive terms; similarly for deontic terms such as


semantical analysis bridges the fact-value gap, by a functional linkage,

without however closing it.

preferential basis.

For it provides no

of value to its

The linkage enables a simple explanation of how

environmental considerations can count:
criteria may be preferred.

worlds satisfying environmental

Sets of worlds where human interests or needs

are not met but ecosystems are maintained may, for example, be prefer­

entially ranked above worlds where human needs are met at the expense of

The way in which the factual basis, which includes environ­

mental facts - the descriptive better-making characteristics - enters into
the evaluative judgments of quality, is in outline as follows:


criteria delimit preference rankings on worlds in the same way that

descriptive features of objects delimit preference rankings of these
It is not the case, then, that we are unable to explain zj?zz/ a natural
item is valuable if we cannot point to some human interest or purpose
which is served.

This again assumes mistakenly, that because a valuer­

relative preference-ranking is involved, the evaluation must somehow be
reducible to the interests or purposes of the valuer.

That there is an

allusion in the semantical unpacking of value to the preference system of
a certain valuer no more requires that the items valued are valuable only
insofar as they serve the valuer's interests or preferences than it does

in more familiar cases such as valuing a work of art, a library or an old

Valuers can and do value items because they perceive in them

properties they take to be valuable, and in the interests of other things
whose interests are their own, and not simply for what they can get out of
them or how far they serve their own interests.

The answer to the question

'Why is it valuable?', for a natural item, will not always be, as it must

always be on the instrumental view,

'Because it is good for such and such

purpose or end of the valuer or those of his group', but may be:


it has properties A, B and C which the valuer holds to be valuable in virtue
of considered preferences, including iterated (second order) preferences
which reflect the preferences of other preference-havers.

In the end, then, environmental value systems are

cvz different

How a seTnaTzt-fcaZ analysis - as distinct from a
analysis may make bridges without involving a reduction - but leaving everything
as it is - is more fully explained in R. Routley 'The semantical meta­
morphosis of metaphysics',
P/z^Zosop/zz/, 54 (1976),
187-205. For more on how the fact/value gap is semantically bridged
see Routley (c).


preference rankings, which take into account different facts from the
chauvinistic systems they are beginning to compete with and aim to

supplant - a different group preference ranking and network (emanating

from the valuer and those like her) which is grounded in a different

perception and emotional presentation of nature.
The semantical meta-ethic is not as neutral as an intuitionistic

for the preference-rankings involved require a valuer, i.e.

thesis (1°) is applied, thereby excluding objective theories.

The fact

that the semantical theory will work (perhaps after minor adaptions) for

a range of normative theories is no serious objection.
not have to be precisely tailored to a given ethic:

A meta-ethic does

the same (sort of)

metalogic may work satisfactorily for many different logics.

It is not merely that the distinctiveness of the meta-ethic may be
what is more serious is that the


(normative) ethic, even




within Western traditions, may be challenged.

It has been suggested, for instance, that such ethics are but versions

or minor variants of ideal utilitarianism
McCloskey, op. cit.).

(cf. Elliot, op. cit.;

To assess this claim, and to reveal how much the

preferred environmental ethic has in common with such utilitarianism and

how much it differs, considering what counts as ideal utilitarianism is

In indicating what does count, there is real point in going

back to Rashdall's original explanation:
... all moral judgements are ultimately judgements as to the
value of ends.

This view of Ethics, which combines the utilitarian

principle that Ethics must be teleological with a non-hedonistic

view of the ethical end I propose to call Ideal Utilitarianism.

According to this view actions are right or wrong according as they

tend to produce for all mankind an ideal end or good, which includes
but is not limited to pleasure.

... The right action is always that

which (so far as the agent has means of knowing) will produce the
greatest amount of good upon the whole.

(H- Rashdall, TTze T/zeorz/ o/

Fzz-z^Z, Oxford University Press, 1907, p.184.)

Ideal utilitarianism is thus, according to Rashdall, nonhedonistic

utilitarianism, and so conforms to the core theses of utilitarianism,

(i) The ethical or ideal end (the good) is determined simply by

maximisation of net utility or value of certain factors or ends, typically
(but not invariably) experiences or states of consciousness such as
pleasure, enjoyment, satisfaction of desires or preferences



(ii) The ends or experiences are those of some given base class,

e.g. mankind, present persons, sentient creatures (Pase <?Zass r^Z-az^z^sut-Zczz);
(iii) Other ethical notions, right in particular, are defined as

determined in terms of the ethical end (^eZeoZ-c^-ZcuZ re^zzc^-Zozz-Zsw).
A corollary of the reductionist assumption - which can take various forms,
e.g. act, rule, average utilitarianism - is that maximisation is uncon­

strained by deontic requirements.

The core principles are also readily

discerned in that other paradigmatic ideal utilitarian, Moore,

who like

Rashdall, objects to (hedonistic) utilitarianism on the grounds of its
hedonistic principle (e.g. p.184), and accordingly widens the ends

admitted in (i), and, again like Rashdall, takes the base class to
consist of humans.

as assessed through its

paradigm exponents *Zs thus chauvinistic, and zzo

sc/zewa /or azz

Human chauvinism is in fact integral to both

Rashdall'sand Moore's work.

For example, Rashdall characterises r-z^TzZ; in

terms of good for mankind, and endorses a strong form of the greater value

assumption (p.215).

And Moore

not only identifies the best poss-ZbZe

state of things in this world with Human Good (p.183), but considers 'by
far the most valuable things we can know or -z^azy-Z/ze, are certain states of

consciousness', Zzzz?n<27z consciousness (p.188, my italics).
Each one of the core theses of utilitarianism is false (the case is
argued in detail in Routley (b)).

Contrary to (i) optimisation needs to

be constrained, deontically constrained, else serious injustices to and
ill-treatment of objects within the base class and, more important,
objects outside that class, are all too likely.

But, as against (iii)

this destroys prospects of successful deontic reductions, which are, on
independent grounds, improbable.

To avoid the chauvinism, typically built

See Pr-Zpzc-Zp-Zu Ez^/z^cu, Cambridge University Press, 1903, chapters V and
Moore does say (p.188) that

No one, probably, ... who has asked himself the question, has even
doubted that personal affection and appreciation of what is beautiful
in Art or Nature, are good in themselves.

But 'appreciation of what is beautiful' reduces, on Moore's account, to
'enjoyment of beautiful objects'; and any independent value in what is
beautiful is 'so small as to be negligible in comparison with that
which attaches to the cozzsu^ozzszzess of beauty', (p.189).
Moore's chauvinistic account thus appears open to familiar objections e.g. those based on enjoyment machines (cf. the wilderness experience
machine discussed above), and on beautiful worlds lacking conscious
beings-which help show that beauty is what counts and not just, or
primarily, experiences of beauty. Moore was not, however, entirely
unaware of such points:
cf. pp.194-95.


into (ii),

(i) requires restatement in terms of factors which avoid base

class relativisation;

then clause (ii) is eliminated.

The need for con­

straints in optimisation modellings of utilitarian or economic sorts can
be seen from the phenomena of interrelated interests and preferences:
that my interests include, or depend upon, yours, means that these cannot

vary independently, but are interrelated.
Repairing the defects of ideal utilitarianism results in more

adequate optimisation modelling.
notion of

The recipe elementary analysis of the

item leads to is, in essence, as follows:

Maximise a

weighted function (e.g. a sum) of the factors that value a determines

subject to appropriate constraints:

symbolically, maximise n-place

function E = E(x) subject to constraining relations Rj(x)

and x = <x^,...,x^>).

(with j an index,

Special cases of such optimisation modellings are

familiar from engineering and economic applications (e.g. determination

of optimal social welfare in concave programming). What is more general
about the model indicated,
is, in particular, the form of constraints
permitted, which can include

that ... Xi ... X2 ..."
bounds for optimals).

deontic constraints, e.g. "It is forbidden

(which has the effect of putting a subspace out of

Since there is nothing to prevent moral prohibitions,

requirements of fairness, and the like, from appearing among the constraints

ethics, economics, and practical reasoning can in principle be success­

fully amalgamated.
The optimisation modelling of general value theory differs

significantly from that of (ideal) utilitarianism.

Although maximization

is fundamental in both, in utilitarianism value is characteristically
replaced by net utility, measured usually in terms of experiential units
of some sort, whereas in general value theory this reduction is rejected.

In each case there is a

of an ethical calculus, but the currency

is different, being values in one case and base class or individual
utilities (units of utility) in the other;

but in both cases the calculus

is so far (equally) unworkable except in very special cases.

In each

case there is an analysis into components of the objective (function)

maximized, but the analysis is very different.

In utilitarianism net

utility is broken down into individual utilities of members of some base


In general value theory such a reduction is rejected (except

perhaps where appropriate hypothetical valuers are admitted);

analysis into factors that carry value is made.

instead an

(But in Moore's ideal

The general model is motivated, explained, illustrated, applied and
defended in Routley (b) and (d) and also in R. Routley, 'The choice of
logical foundations: nonclassical choices and the ultralogical choice',
L<9<2"f<?a, 38 (1979).


utilitarianism, unlike utilitarianism proper, the way is opened for
factors, such as beauty, which carry intrinsic value and are not reducible
to features of the base class or its members.)

In utilitarianism deontic

notions, such as right, are analysed in terms of the value theory;

general value theory deontic notions are taken as given
constraints are imposed on optimisations.

but in

and deontic

Whereas the maximisations of

utilitarianisms proper are (single element) unconstrained maximisations
(hence the injustice, unfairness, and ill-treatment such ethics condone),
general value theory optimisations are constrained.

in principle

While there is room

for constraints in ideal utilitarianism, as there is for a

switch to factors which are base-class independent - though the theory has

never been elaborated to the point where these things are done - deontic
constraints cannot be noncircularly imposed, given the teleological
reduction thesis (so the problems of unfairness and ill-treatment remain).

It is a fairly evident corollary of the differences that general

value theory removes leading objections to utilitarianisms.

It is not

perhaps so evident, however, how it applies to environmental cases or

what the factors of environmental relevance are.

To expose some of the

factors - and to indicate just how far an environmental ethics is dis­

tanced even from a comparatively liberal ethic like Moore's ideal

- consider the very difficult optimisation problems as to

the determination of the Ideal.

Moore distinguishes (1) The Ideal,
from, what is more interesting,

state of things

the best possZbZe state of things in this world',

toward which our action should be directed'

absolute ideal'


and (2)



'the MZtZ/naZe end


Call (1)


'the T ideal' or 'the this world ideal'


A crucial difference between the two problems lies in the constraints:
determination of TI is constrained by features - many of them unknown -

of the actual world T (now and in the immediate future), by its populations
of humans and of various species of living things on its various earths,
by its natural features, by its physical and technological resources,

limitations of which will impose characteristic scarcity constraints.


That does not imply that no analyses can be given of deontic notions.
Although axiological reductions are ruled out, others are not.
Certainly semantical analysis, like that already sketched for permissib­
ility, can be supplied and elaborated.
Moore's teleological ethic is not far removed from Aristotle's ethic
more than 2000 years earlier (which exhibits features of ideal
utilitarianism) . From the point of view of this long relativelyunchanged base line, environmental ethics are not merely new and
radical, but represent a paradigm shift.



contrast, KI is presumably not constrained by resources or technology
(in relation to populations);

this is just one reason why Leibnitz's

equations of TI with KI and with things as at present fails.

theless constrained.


KI is none­

There will, for example, be constraints forbidding

unfair or ill-treatment of various sorts (given that such treatment is

possible), and there will be constraints interrelating factors that are
not independent.

The factors entering into the modelling will no doubt represent, in
some way, many of the positive goods, such as enjoyment of the "meritor­
ious" sorts that Moore managed to discern - positively weighted - and

many of the evils he found - but negatively weighted (but some of these
things are better represented through constraints). There remain,
however, many features
of ecological importance that Moore never con­


for example, diversity of systems and creatures, naturalness,
integrity of systems, stability of systems, harmony of systems.

Optimising a mix of factors, which are mutually constrained, meets
constant reproaches made against such ecological values as diversity.

The objections take the form that enhancement of diversity as a sole
factor can lead to undesirable ecological results, indeed can diminish
net value and so be wrong on utilitarianism grounds.
On the multiple

factor model diversity is constrained by naturalness and stability, for


thus net value is not going to be increased through increasing

the diversity of a simple temperate rainforest by felling some of its

trees and replacing them with exotic species.

On the other hand, diver­

sity will be increased by planting the banks of a stream, eroded through

excess clearing and overgrazing, with suitable exotic species - then birds

Perhaps, moreover, there are no limiting natural laws, such as con­
servation principles, but the universe operates according to beneficient natural laws.
There are distinctions here between worlds and
physically possible worlds which Moore did not make.

There may also be, at least in the case of KI, as Moore observed,
factors that we are unaware of - at least under the intended construal
of 'conceivable'.
Rough and ready measures of such factors as diversity are not so
difficult to come by, and, in important respects, present fewer problems
than obtaining measures of pleasure that encompass, in ways that take
account of interspecies and interindividual comparisons, all sentient

Compare the objections made in §4 to Rodman's reliance on the single
criteria of diversity; and also Passmore's points in (a) against
diversity as a single criterion in arguments for preservation.

and other animals will increase as well as plant diversity - and in such

a case stability will also be increased in the longer term and natural­

ness not diminished (since already removed);

thus overall value will be

increased (it may also be increased by the enjoyment of conservationists
formerly appalled by the stream landscape).

Diversity,though (like enjoy­

ment or pleasure) good in itself, is (again like hedonistic values) not an
unconstrained value (compare, e.g., enjoyment obtained through secret
maltreatment of animals or by impoverishment of an unvisited streamside).

The multiple factor model also solves the problem of how to combine
traditional values, such as the virtues and creature enjoyment with what

many in the West are only beginning to discern, environmental values;
namely, by a constrained optimisation which takes due (i.e. weighted)
account of them
Thus in moving to an environmental (or nonchauvinist)
ethic one is not

ordinarily acknowledged welfare values for persons

or humans, but simply recognising a further set of values to which such
welfare values should be added.

welfare values are retained;

Nor is one

humans, for human

one is simply aiming to remove - through

constraints which may reduce assignments to human values in favour of

other values - the unwarranted privilege and chauvinism of the displaced
Western super-ethic.
One would not have come very far if, despite the claim to have

recognised environmental values, one assumed that wherever there is con­
flict between natural values and human values, the latter must always


This would be equivalent to assigning them very low weight, or

even zero value, in all serious conflict cases.

One would not have

advanced far past rejection of axiological principle (A) if one then
accepted, in assessments as to how things should be done, the yreafer
namely that even though other things may have intrinsic
value, people or humans are more valuable than anything else, and rank

more highly (no matter how large their number).To allow that sows

in human welfare values may sometimes - or even often,
especially with increasing human populations - have to be accepted in
cases of conflict is an essential part of assigning a genuine positive
value to nonhuman factors.
Sometimes humans, their states and conditions,

do not come first:

the greater value assumption should be rejected.

Such an assumption - in popular form, that people come first - is
extrgTMgZ-z/ widespread and is even included in animal liberation theory;
cf. Singer, op. cit.
For striking examples of the damaging assumption
at work, see the (chauvinistic) resolutions of the United Nations
Conference on the Human Environment.



There are many kinds of examples.

Conspicuous examples are provided by

recognisedly evil people (there are, under current social arrangements,
plenty), whose welfare, or even lives, do not rank above, for example,

valuable natural items, or the welfare of future persons.

More con­

troversial are evaluations which rank the preservation of an animal

species, such as the tiger, above the increase (or even retention) of
human population in given areas.91 But, for the most part, the compar­
ative value of humans as opposed to other creatures and things has been
greatly exaggerated.
The arguments used in support of the greater value assumption are

but variations of those for human chauvinism already considered, and

largely rejected (in §1).

Thus, for instance, Keller argues for a greater

value thesis on the ground that a 'human being is the most complex thing
which we know; its depth and range of experience far transcend that of

any other known living thing'


Ecological Concern', Zz/^o/z, vol.6

(J.A. Keller,

(1971), pp.197-209).

complexity the claim is almost certainly false:
are much more complex.

'Types of Motives for

As regards pure

tropical forest ecosystems

The claim about range of experience is open to

doubt, even for "normal" humans, since many animals have a much wider

range of such sensory experiences as smells; and it is false of many

More important, range and "depth" of experience, of certain

have) , does not, on its own,

select sorts (those that normally

establish greater value in any routine or regular way.

Often enough it

is no good basis for assigning greater value.
The generalised optimisation model will commonly give way, in

applications less sweeping and more feasible than that of the determining
TI, to such special cases of it as Bayesian decision theory and cost­

benefit analysis, where these analyses allow properly for environmental
values and duly incorporate ethical constraints (see Routley (a)).



The fact of the matter is that prevailing unqualified attitudes to
human welfare or the "sanctity" of human life - as opposed to other
life - are shot through with inconsistency. For instance, despite
common claims that human life is sacrosanct, neither the largely
unquestioned military ethics nor medical ethics nor the state or "the
law" take such a position: most individual humans are regarded as
expendible, replaceable, and not particularly or uniquely valuable.
On the prevailing ethic quite a different evaluation is taken for
granted: e.g.
It would be unrealistic to agree, of course, that preservation of
wildlife should take precedence over providing for human needs.
(S. Richardson, writing in T/ze CuTZ&erru
November 29, 1974 ,

On an environmental ethic, while it might not be politically expedient,
it would not be at all "unrealistic", to so agree.


is these more special methods that should normally be applied in trying
to determine a best course of action in a range of difficult decision

cases thrown up for an environmental ethics, especially cases where there
is a conflict (i.e. constraining conditions) between retention of natural
values (e.g. preserving a wilderness or a national park) and maintenance

of humanistic values (e.g. keeping some humans alive, commonly reckoned

one of the highest human-values).

But for a cost-benefit weigh-up to be

attempted such cases have to be described in

more detail

usually provided by chauvinistic philosophers who

than is

to direct such

examples against environmental evaluations - as if furthermore, the

examples were quite conclusive, when they almost always presuppose from
the very beginning what is in dispute, a greater value assumption.


connection with such intended counterexamples to properly environmental

ethics, two further points are worth recording:
firstly, resort to such
analytical methods is the rational procedure in such cases (unless a time

urgency intrudes, as seldom happens, or should happen, in philosophy);
secondly, an environmental ethic should not, any more than other ethics
or economics, be expected to provide a decision procedure for any and
every case that may arise:

the theory (and accompanying intuitions) may

have to be developed to resolve some cases, while other cases may go
(cheerfully) undecided.
On similar test or decision cases, e.g. one
group of starving people versus another group in a situation of limited

resources, or quality of life versus number of humans, conventional ethical
theories may offer no quick, or clearcut, resolutions, etc.
The optimisation model indicates, among many other things, how
axiological principle (A) is to be modified.

For best choice and best

course of action are now determined by taking account of the further
range of values, not just those that are human-based.
Then (A) vanishes

into the truism that only those objects that are of intrinsic value are
of intrinsic value, or need be taken into account in the values of the
optimisation model.
How to rectify the deontic principle (D) is rather less obvious than
how to adjust (A).

An obvious strategy, is, however, to add further

92 Even when a case is more fully described there will, of course be
(unavoidable) difficulties in quantifying some of the values, e.g.
those of "intangible" factors; but these difficulties are not sub­
stantially worse than those already encountered in routine business
accounting in quantifying such assets as good-will and such matters as
wage relativities for different work.
As L. Tribe has pointed out
(in 'Ways not to think about plastic trees:
new foundations for
environmental law', YaZ-e AuzJ
vol.83 (1974) , pp.1315-1348) the
difficulties of transferring or adapting rather standard methods of
assessment, such as decision theory and cost-benefit analyses, to pro
vide rational decision methods in the case of environmental matters has
been much exaggerated, to the detriment of the environment.



But it is unsatisfactory to do this in a piecemeal sort of

it hardly suffices, for example, to simply add further riders

excluding unnecessary cruelty to animals, speciescide, etc.

What has to

is unwarranted interference with other preference­

be ruled out

havers (and goal-possessors)

and the degrading of items of value.


revised principle appears then to go something like this:-


One is free to act as one wishes provided that (i) one does not

unwarrantedly interfere with other preference-havers, and

(ii) one does not damage or ill-treat or devalue anything of

Though the revised principle has a rather more complex and restrictive

character than freedom principle (D) and Western variants thereon, it
still does the requisite task (D) set out to do, namely to state that out­
side certain prescribed areas one is free, that select behaviour is
permissible.93 it is simply that the proscribed area is far larger than
inadequate homocentric ethics have envisaged.

But perhaps the whole conception underlying (D), and the way it
fixes onus of proof, should be stood on its head.

On the view behind (D),

one starts from an unlimited position permitting unlimited interference
and exploitation;

restrictions are added primarily because other ones

(again ones of the privileged class) are also starting from a similar
unlimited position whose freedom of action may be (impermissibly) curtailed
by one's own.

So results the initial position, e.g. of (D).

For inter­

ference in others' projects (no matter how exploitative) beyond this

"evident" initial position,good reasons have always to be offered.
alternative thoroughgoing

On the

respect view, which is illustrated by various

nonexploitative non-Western ethics, one starts from a restricted position,

a position of no interference and no exploitation, a position at peace with

the natural world so to say, and allows interference - not as on

thinking, restricts interference - for good reasons.
thus entirely inverted:

stop interference.


The onus of proof is

good reasons are required y<2r interference, not

The good reasons include the collecting of fruit

and nuts (and other natural "produce") for life support purposes, but not,
for example, the collection of a substantial surplus of forest orchids on

whim or in the hope that they may be sold at a profit.
A theory of value like that outlined, though it takes it for granted,
93 The revised freedom principle is not incompatible with, but can be
combined with and supplemented by, a bill of rights, charter or catechism specifying positively types of rights and of permissible



in the constraints imposed in optimisation, that there are deontic

principles limiting what is done to many objects other than persons,
leaves main deontic issues open, and in particular does not thereby imply

that such objects have rights.

For woraZ

forbidding certain

actions with respect to an object (fo not, in general,
that object a
corretattle r-^p/zt.
That it would be wrong to mutilate a given oak or

landscape painting does not entail that the tree or painting has a correl­

ative right not to be mutilated - without (what has a point) stretching
the notion of r^p*7z^.

An environmental ethic like the respect ethic being

advanced does not automatically commit one to the view that natural

objects or artifacts sometimes have rights.
It is sometimes held that some such objects do have rights, e.g.

under the influence of pantheism.

But construed literally, pantheism is

false, since artefacts, and other inanimate objects, are not alive.


view that the class of right-holders extends beyond the class of

preference-havers can however be placed on bases less extravagant than
pantheism - most obviously in terms of a suitable deontic analysis of
r^p?zt, for instance along the following lines:

d has a right to


(obligation-holders) are not entitled to interfere with d's cj)ing

(if d (f)'s or were to (j)).

Under this account, of


emerges straight-forwardly from modern analyses of r^p/zt, a painting or a

tree may indeed have "rights", such as to continue existing.


the term 'right' can no doubt be 6^ctezz<ie(i along some such lines, the

analysis leaves out essential elements of the normal notion, namely the

involvement of choice.

There are, once again, various competing environ­

mental ethics, some simple extensions of Western ethics which extrapolate
the notion of r^p/zt, some not, some rationalistic, some not, and so on.

Environmental positions can - but need not - adhere to the familiar
assumption that rights divide into the following two broad classes:First, there are rights held by those (persons, in o?z6 sense) who can

duly claim their rights themselves, a class which excludes many humans

So rejected also is the s^rozz^ correlation thesis, presented e.g. in
S.I. Benn and R.S. Peters, Pocz^aZ Pr^Tzc^pZes a7z<i ^Tze Pew<9<?r<2^<?
Allen and Unwin/1959, pp.89-9, according to which 'right and duty are
different names for the same normative relation, according to the point
of view from which it is regarded' (thereby also elevating what is at
best a coentailment into a stronger identity relation).
For example,
that d has a duty to look after the painting does not entail that the
painting has a right to be looked after by d, in any sense of 'right'
Benn and Peters are prepared to acknowledge.

The weaker correlation thesis - that d has a right to R entails that
at least someone else has a duty with respect to R - is not at issue.



and (so far as we know) almost all nonhuman animals.

Such rights are

often supposed to carry with them various responsibilities.


there are rights held by certain other (sometime sentient) creatures;

though the extent of this subclass of right-holders is a controversial
matter, it is generally taken to include at least infants, mentally

defective humans, dead humans, and some animals.

These rights do not

carry corresponding responsibilities, though they are, of course, the
However the assumption that certain rights -

ground for various claims.

the really central rights - are restricted to those who can claim them on

their OM% behalf, seems to be based on the faulty idea of private (or
separable) individuals as the basic metaphysical units.

In a community

of socio-environmental individuals there is no reason why one creature's

rights should not be claimed, as infants' and animals' rights frequently

are, by another:

these rights are others' responsibilities.

right-holder has itself no specific responsibilities.

Often a

Moreover the

supposed division leaves it quite vague what responsibilities "central"
often, it seems, they have none that

right-holders are supposed to have;

connect relevantly with their rights.

be put on the alleged division:
a primary nonderivative way).

Accordingly but little weight will

any preference-haver can hold rights (in
That any preference-haver can hold rights

is a consequence of the account of rt<y72t that usage of 'right to' appears
to lead to, namely for very many (action-type) predicates cj), d has a

right to

iff, for every other (obligation-holder) z, z is not entitled

to interfere with d if d chooses or would choose to <&.

Thus that d holds

rights requires of d only that it be the sort of creature that can make
choices, that it be a preference-haver.

The result holds good generally.

Consider the other main case, where the right is to some object b:

d has

a right to b iff, for certain ot (a class of obligation holders, which may

consist of a single person), members of a have an obligation to cede b to
d if a chooses or would choose (to have) b (cf. Benn and Peters, op. cit.,


To be sure, there are other cases where rights to are attributed,

but these appear to reduce to the cases given;
which seems to amount to something like:
to work.

e.g. a has a right to work,

a has a right to an opportunity

Similar analyses - again with significance restrictions on the

class of (])S and bs - apply to rights ??ot to, e.g. an animal has a right
not to be kept in a cage.

Rights of this sort can likewise be held by any

preference-haver (but once again such rights

be extended beyond this

class to all natural objects).
Not every right-holder bears responsibilities or carries obligations :
infants for instance do not.

Responsibility-bearers and obligation­

holders are a very proper subclass of humans and may only overlap the




class of humans, and likewise the class of potential responsibility­

bearers only overlaps the class of humans.

Thus more demanding deontic

notions afford no point of access for human chauvinism.

To be responsible

for something requires more than ability to have preferences or capacity to
make choices;

it implies liability to be called to account for the thing,

answerability for it.

Similarly, the undertaking of obligations involves

entering into binding relations which imply answerability.


bearers and obligation-holders are thus a subclass of preference-havers,
in accord with the annular theory.

For answerability and accountability

involve some level of linguistic competence - at the very least an ability
to answer, in some language (usually presumed

to be translatable, easily?,

into some human language) - which many preference-havers do not possess.
But responsibility and obligation lead a kind of a double life.

For a

creature that does not have responsibilities, may nonetheless be responsible
for various things, in the sense of having done them, and sometimes done

them deliberately;

as, e.g., the wallaby who breaks down protecting

netting and branches time and again is responsible for the demise of a
Japanese plumtree.

Rather similar oz^p/zf-statements hold true of subjects

who do not carry obligations;

consider, e.g., "wombats ought to be more

careful in crossing roads".

The upshot is that an environmental ethic can - despite its very

different value theory - retain, in large measure, and sharpen, rather

standard accounts of, and distinctions concerning, rights and obligations.
It is in this respect, however, that the sort of environmental ethic being
advanced differs markedly from alternative environmental ethics, e.g.
those which would, implausibly, confer rights to trees, assign obligations

to the soil, and so on.

JM<?7z 6J?fe?zs^o?z pos^f^o/zs, of which Leopold's

would be a leading example,

^Tzaf <2% eM^iro^z/??6?zfaZ ef/z^c

znz^sf yoZZozJ i/zg paffgru cy hosier?? ef/z^<?s

&ase <?^uss.


a zzzzzcTz

The way to a satisfactory, environmental, ethic is to reject

the pattern of the Western super-ethic, not to simply extend it.

The way

is through some sort of annular theory which recognises categorial distinc­
tions between different sorts of things, not through a theory which would

delete the legitimate distinctions between the sorts of things.
latter mistaken way is unnecessary.


For example, in order to reject the

instrumental view of value, and to assign natural objects intrinsic value,
it is unnecessary to take Leopold's course of viewing all natural objects
as having r^p/zfs in the same way as persons and preference-havers are

regarded as having rights, or of persons as having obligations


objects such as trees in the same sort of way as to other persons.
Thus too there is no need to see the rejection of the instrumental



view as mystical or anti-rational, or as reverting to the view that
trees and other natural items house spirits (a view which in any case may

have simply been a way of expressing an allotment of value to natural
items), and hence as gross superstition.

An environmental ethic can be as

tough, practical, rational and secular as prevailing Western ethics.

so such an ethics will

lose much


if it loses contact with its felt bases

in natural things and appreciation of natural things.

An environmental ethic will be much the poorer too if it limits

itself to the moral terminology, and variations of the categories, of
chauvinistically shaped ethics.
There will much more as to care, concern
and respect in the presentation and main principles of such an ethic than,
what occupies standard Western ethics, duties, obligations and rights.


this way too, further problems and puzzles for environmental ethics can
be resolved.

For example, the view that ethical concepts can apply to the

non-human world in an irreducible way is often seen as very puzzling.

Much of this puzzlement is generated by attempting to transfer intact a
strongly legalistic and person-oriented category of moral concepts, such
as rights, moral obligations, duties, and so on, to items in the natural

world where they give rise to such apparg^tZ-y problematic questions as
'Do stones have rights?', 'What are our moral obligations to trees?', and

so on.

If we attempt instead to apply a broader, less legalistic class of

moral concepts, such as care, concern, responsibility and respect, much of
the puzzling character of these still essentially moral attributions

There is no great problem for example about how we can legitimately

apply notions such as respect to natural items, once a few distinctions
are made.

The view that the land, animals, and the natural world should

be treated with respect was a common one in many hunting and gathering
societies, and it is clear that this respect was not seen as generated
merely by moral obligations to other persons.

dimension to relations


Respect adds a moral

the natural world.

Respect - or the lack of

it - comes out in everyday actions concerning the natural world.


following passage contrasts the Western treatment of the land which lacks
respect with the careful and respectful treatment of some American

The White people never cared for land or dear or bear.
we Indians kill meat, we eat it all up.

little holes.

When we dig roots we make

When we built houses, we make little holes.

burn grass for grasshoppers, we don't ruin things.
acorns and pinenuts.

dead wood.


We don't chop down the trees.

When we

We shake down
We only use

But the White people plow up the ground, pull down the


trees, kill everything

(Tozzck ike Furik,

(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

Tonck ike Forik, 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 eiiker 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, Tke Cowpiete Rook


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 ZrZz?ZuZ human ends.


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


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. ,-;Eveh the. ti.RfeLy herw,,
for instance of the counterculture, on-human relations (a-s opposed to selfcontained 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',







'responsibility', 'trust',

Because the theoretical and attitudinal

frame is changed, an environmental ethic forces - as we have already

found with such notions as z)oZ-Me, cZzotce, interference and (Zowa^e reexamination of, and modified analyses of, characteristic ethical notions.
It requires, furthermore, reassessment of traditional and conventional
analyses of such notions as nctnraZ- ri^/zt, ^ronn^Z of ri^Zzt^ and perznissib-

iZitz/., 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, TZze Lopic of Cipnificonce an^Z Context,
Vol. 1, Scottish Academic Press, 1973, chapters 3 and 4.





Cursory examination of recent accounts of TzuZ^ruZ rZpTzZ^



ucf-Zczz 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


'Are there any natural rights?', reprinted in PcZ-ZZ-ZcuZ


(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

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 woruZ-ZZy, where it is simply taken for granted that 'moral' distinguishes
among ZzMzzzu?z 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 chauvinistically 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, AfcruZ-Ztp; 24% P^z^rodMcf-Zo^ fo Ff/z-Zcs^
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, TZzeor'Zes
Ft/z-Zcs, Oxford University
Press, London, 1967, and G.J. Warnock, Ccwfewporurz/ AforuZ P/z-ZZosop/zz/,
Macmillan, London, 1967, and also TZzg
o.f MoraZ-Zfz/, 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 environ­
mental 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 a^naZf^z/ and justifying it in ways that argue from man's
humanity^98 and the inadequacy of much recent, largely chauvinistic, work
in the philosophy of actdan, which takes it for granted that action and
rationality requirements on action are bound up with human nature.
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.


98 Among such unsatisfactory liberal egalitarian positions are those
presented in G. Vlastos, 'Justice and equality' in SacZaZ JnstZae
(ed. R.B. Brandt), Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1962, and
B.A.O. Williams, 'The idea of equality' in P^Zasap/zz^., PaZfZfcs and
JacZafz/, Second series (ed. P. Laslett and W.G. Runciman), Blackwell,
Oxford, 1963.

99 see, e.g.^T. Nagel, T/ze Pass-Z&'ZZ'Ztz/ a/ ^ZZrnZszzz, Clarendon Press,
Oxford, 1970.

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 west 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;^00 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 <9722 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


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

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' , P/z^Zcsop/ztcczZ
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.

While the first of Kant's maxims is not so restricted in actual form­
ulation, others are (see H.J. Paton,
AforuZ P<2M, Hutchinson, London,
1947) . And, firstly, such maxims are s^ppast?^ 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

For much of economics is squarely founded

but still far from negligible.
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
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 s^rz^g^raZ. c/zaMgre

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 m turn influences the foundations of 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,


Me?zs<?/ze?zzjgr^, all necessity, all intensionality,


It should result too in the shattering of still widespread

As (g) V. and R. Routley, 'Social theories, self management and
environmental problems', this volume, begins to explain.
Cf. R. Harre, TTza P/z^Zosop/ztes c/ S'c^eyzcg, Oxford University Press,
and also Routley (e).



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

effects. 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.104 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 Renaissance,
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 theRenaissance,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 ...'.1°5
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

104 As Passmore has observed - inconsistently with what is claimed m his
(a) - in 'Attitudes to Nature', Roz/aZ
of PTz^oscp/zy 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.
105 goth quotations are from T^ze
<?y tTzg 7?e7z<2^ss(2%<3g (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 hpld:,

religious or humanistic.
Secondly, the removal of humans from a dominant position JhT 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
perceivers?), intuitionism in mathematics, con­
ventionalism in logical theory, the Copenhagen interpretation ir^ micr<^-

physics, and subjectivisms not only in ethics but in every other*

True, most of these positions are defeated on t^e
basis of other considerations anyway; but it is an immediate and fur,t^ier

philosophical sphere.

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 2: Draft of Human chauvinism and environmental ethics,” Antipodean Antinuclearism, accessed December 10, 2023,

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