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Ecological Ethics Paperback – 22 Jul 2011
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"This significantly expanded second edition is indispensable."
Times Higher Education
LSE Politics Blog
"A must read – not only for greenies, but especially for the lay person seeking more information on the subject, both from a theoretical and from a practical point of view."
"It is easy to see why Curry′s book is highly relevant to the modern environmentalist. His writing is accessible and his voice doesn′t get in the way of the big topics he covers. Such clarity of expression is of great importance for a book that possesses such intellectual vigour. Moreover, such an approach means this can be read and understood not by academics alone but by anyone wishing to better understand their own reactions to environmental dilemmas as well as other people′s."
"Contributes both an original perspective to the field of environmental philosophy and an accessible comprehensive introductory text for undergraduates."
Newsletter of the International Society for Environmental Ethics
"Curry′s book is a significant contribution, and it is wholeheartedly recommended for those who are interested in building a better world."
"A profoundly useful and informative guide."
"Ecological Ethics is the best practical introduction to the role of philosophy in understanding the greatest environmental challenges of our time. Everyone who wants to make a difference should read it."
David Rothenberg, New Jersey Institute of Technology and author of Survival of the Beautiful and Why Birds Sing
"An excellent introduction to the different schools of ecological ethics, and as importantly, a strong defense of why a deep–green (or ecocentric) ethics represents the future of ethics if we humans wish to sustain a viable civilization on planet Earth."
Erik Assadourian, Senior Fellow and Director of the Transforming Cultures Project, Worldwatch Institute
David Keller, Utah Valley University
About the Author
Patrick Curry is an honorary research lecturer at the University of Wales Trinity St David.
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I'm disappointed since it does not really discuss ethical "questions". It provides an ethical framework for a deep green, eco-centric ethic and describes the current obviously terrible problems, how other ethical systems got us here, and why they are unethical by this eco-centric ethic. But while allowing (I think) that there can be true ethical dilemmas, it doesn't actually consider any such questions: e.g. while there is a discussion of why the world's large population is a problem, it says nothing about the ethically impossible problem of making any change in this area.
The discussion of the ethics of eating animal products is also oversimplifed and sterotyped and doesn't even allow the existence of the real questions involved. This is a subject I've thought about a lot, and while I have my own baises, the author doesn't seem to even consider that eating eggs and milk results very directly in deaths of male chickens and cows. Nor does he differentiate between suffering and death.
I was very bothered when the author descended into name-calling ("insecurely masculine middle-class American bear-hunters"). I've never known a bear-hunter so I can't confirm or refute this statement, but I doubt it is research-based.
This book has valuable points, but these previous two complaints showed up about 1/3 the way through, and I lost my sense of trust in the author; after that, I skimmed the dull parts and haven't really retained much. If reviewing for myself alone I'd give three stars but for other readers without my hot buttons it might be five stars...
Where the book does not succeed is in convincing anyone who is not an ecocentrist to be one. There is little philosophical argument for this position. The main argument I can see is that we must become ecocentrists if we are going to be sufficiently motivated to sacrifice humans interests at the level that is necessary to stop ecological crises. For Curry, traditional anthropocentric environmentalism (we should not destroy the environment because of how this will affect human beings) isn’t sufficiently motivating. As he says, “the unlikeliness of this degree of enlightened self-interest, on any significant scale, should be virtually self-evident” (62). However, this isn’t an argument for thinking that ecosystems are intrinsically valuable, or, if they are intrinsically value, how this is moral value on par with (or trumping) the interests of moral agents (i.e., humans). Nor does it explain how ecocentrism is to solve its own motivation problem, namely what is to motivate us to become ecocentrists. If solving eco-crises really depends on that, then we are going to need to hear the strongest possible positive arguments for why we should think that way about humans and ecosystems.