25 Jan

Ecological Ethics: An Introduction (revised 2nd Edition, 2018)

Posted By polity_admin_user

Written by Patrick Curry.

Ecological Ethics was published in a second edition, revised and considerably expanded, in 2011. Last year, I wrote a new Foreword for it. I didn’t feel it was necessary to revise the text again because the last few years have seen little change in what I wrote then. The news continues to be bad, with a few bright spots. More importantly, since this is a work about principles and practices, it seems to me that the fundamentals continue to be sound.

Their basis, and what makes this book distinctive among other books on environmental ethics, is a distinction between ecocentrism and anthropocentrism. Ecocentric ethics recognises the Earth itself, including its ecosystems, species and individuals, as well as its essential abiotic elements, as the primary locus of value. That, above all else, is what must be protected. Anthropocentrism, in contrast, is mainly or even solely concerned with human welfare. Since that is entirely dependent on ecological integrity, ignoring the latter is a promising way to lose both.

The same applies to social justice in all its many versions. It follows that where and when the two clash – which is sometimes unavoidable – ecological considerations must take priority. As for ecomodernism, extending still further corporate control of the natural world, it stands exposed in the light of ecocentrism as a malign fantasy, both destructive of the natural world and ultimately self-destructive.

In short, this is a guide to Earth ethics in deeply troubled times.

Patrick Curry’s newly revised and updated edition of Ecological Eithics, Second Edition is now available from Polity.