The Environmental Responsibility Reader

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Considering the preservation of the global environment as a responsibility of a corporation manufacturing products that are distributed worldwide, we published "Basic Environmental Policies" in In , for the purpose of enhancing the efforts to realize the said policies, we started to receive international environmental standards ISO certification for our company-wide "ISO Integrated Environmental Management System," including the HQ Administrative Division, Sales Division, and Technical Division, instead of having our domestic Group companies Tohoku Hirose Electric, Ichinoseki Hirose Electric, and Koriyama Hirose Electric individually receive such certification as we had done until As is fitting for a company whose slogan is "Creative Links to World Electronics," the Hirose Electric Group recognizes the importance of preserving the global environment as one of the basic business challenges associated with its global ambitions.

We will therefore promote corporate activities that give full consideration to conservation of the environment and biodiversity. They are used in environmentally friendly products, such as electric vehicles and LED lights. Through the utilization of our connectors, we will contribute to the realization of a low-carbon society, preservation of the environment, and conservation of biodiversity.

Recognizing that in an endeavor to preserve the environment it is important to adopt environmental management that both is effective and conforms to the relevant environmental management system standards. Hirose Electric and its group companies are committed to conforming to the international standard ISO and are implementing the following environmental protection activities. We will ensure that we understand the conditions surrounding our company, the needs of our stakeholders, and the impact of our activities and products on the environment. Based on these findings, we will identify what we must do to protect the environment, ensure that we meet our conformance obligations, and determine the risks and opportunities associated with undertaking such activities.

We will promote environmental protection and prevention of pollution by planning and implementing our activities accordingly. We will comply with environment-related laws, regulations, ordinances, and external requirements that we subscribe to. Such conclusions not only seem absurd, but also inimical to the environmentalist goal of preserving natural habitats and processes. Having said all of this, I should not over-emphasize the opposition between animal ethics and environmental ethics.

Just because animal ethicists grant moral standing only to conscious individuals, that does not mean that they hold everything else in contempt Jamieson, Holistic entities may not have independent moral standing, according to these thinkers, but that does not equate to ignoring them. Moreover, the idea that animal ethics imply large-scale interferences in the environment can be questioned when one considers how much harm this would inflict upon predator and scavenger animals.

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Nevertheless, clashes of interest between individual animals and other natural entities are inevitable, and when push comes to shove animal ethicists will invariably grant priority to individual conscious animals. Many environmental ethicists disagree, and are convinced that the boundaries of our ethical concern need to be pushed back further.

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As noted above, numerous philosophers have questioned the notion that only conscious beings have moral standing. The thought experiment asks us to consider a situation, such as the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust, where the only surviving human being is faced with the only surviving tree of its species.

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If the individual chops down the tree, no human would be harmed by its destruction. For our purposes we should alter the example and say that all animals have also perished in the holocaust. Would this individual be wrong to destroy the tree? According to a human or animal-centered ethic, it is hard to see why such destruction would be wrong. And yet, many of us have the strong intuition that the individual would act wrongly by chopping down the tree. For some environmental philosophers, this intuition suggests that moral standing should be extended beyond conscious life to include individual living organisms, such as trees.

Of course, and as I have mentioned before, we cannot rely only on intuitions to decide who or what has moral standing. For this reason, a number of philosophers have come up with arguments to justify assigning moral standing to individual living organisms. One of the earliest philosophers to put forward such an argument was Albert Schweitzer.

This, after all, would require some kind of conscious experience, which many living things lack. However, perhaps what Schweitzer was getting at was something like Paul W. For Taylor, this means that living things have a good of their own that they strive towards, even if they lack awareness of this fact.

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It is this value that grants individual living organisms moral status, and means that we must take the interests and needs of such entities into account when formulating our moral obligations. But if we recognize moral standing in every living thing, how are we then to formulate any meaningful moral obligations? For example we need to walk, eat, shelter and clothe ourselves, all of which will usually involve harming living things. Of course, this simply begs the question: when is absolutely necessary? Taylor attempts to answer this question by advocating a position of general equality between the interests of living things, together with a series of principles in the event of clashes of interest.

First, the principles state that humans are allowed to act in self-defense to prevent harm being inflicted by other living organisms. Second, the basic interests of nonhuman living entities should take priority over the nonbasic or trivial interests of humans. Third, when basic interests clash, humans are not required to sacrifice themselves for the sake of others Taylor, , pp. As several philosophers have pointed out, however, this ethic is still incredibly demanding. For some, this makes the ethic unreasonably burdensome.

Judaism and Environmental Ethics

No doubt because of these worries, other philosophers who accord moral standing to all living organisms have taken a rather different stance. Instead of adopting an egalitarian position on the interests of living things, they propose a hierarchical framework Attfield, and Varner, Such thinkers point out that moral standing is not the same as moral significance. So while we could acknowledge that plants have moral standing, we might nevertheless accord them a much lower significance than human beings, thus making it easier to justify our use and destruction of them.

Nevertheless, several philosophers remain uneasy about the construction of such hierarchies and wonder whether it negates the acknowledgement of moral standing in the first place.

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After all, if we accept such a hierarchy, just how low is the moral significance of plants? If it is low enough so that I can eat them, weed them and walk on them, what is the point of granting them any moral standing at all?

There remain two crucial challenges facing philosophers who attribute moral standing to individual living organisms that have not yet been addressed. One challenge comes from the anthropocentric thinkers and animal liberationists. For example, while plants may have a biological good, is it really good of their own? Indeed, there seems to be no sense in which something can be said to be good or bad from the point of view of the plant itself. In response to this challenge, environmental ethicists have pointed out that conscious volition of an object or state is not necessary for that object or state to be a good.

For example, consider a cat that needs worming. It is very unlikely that the cat has any understanding of what worming is, or that he needs worming in order to remain healthy and fit. Similarly, plants and tress may not consciously desire sunlight, water or nutrition, but each, according to some ethicists, can be said to be good for them in that they contribute to their biological flourishing.

The second challenge comes from philosophers who question the individualistic nature of these particular ethics. As mentioned above, these critics do not believe that an environmental ethic should place such a high premium on individuals. For many, this individualistic stance negates important ecological commitments to the interdependence of living things, and the harmony to be found in natural processes. Moreover, it is alleged that these individualistic ethics suffer from the same faults as anthropocentric and animal-centered ethics: they simply cannot account for our real and demanding obligations to holistic entities such as species and ecosystems.

Once again, however, a word of caution is warranted here. Often the equilibrium of these entities is taken extremely seriously See Taylor, , p. However, it must be remembered that such concern is extended only insofar as such equilibrium is necessary in order for individual living organisms to flourish; the wholes themselves have no independent moral standing.

For Leopold, land is not merely soil. Instead, land is a fountain of energy, flowing through a circuit of soils, plants and animals. While food chains conduct the energy upwards from the soil, death and decay returns the energy back to the soil. Thus, the flow of energy relies on a complex structure of relations between living things.

For one thing, it seems that Leopold jumps too quickly from a descriptive account of how the land is , to a prescriptive account of what we ought to do. What precisely is it about the biotic community that makes it deserving of moral standing? Unfortunately, Leopold seems to offer no answers to these important questions, and thus no reason to build our environmental obligations around his land ethic. However, J.

Baird Callicott has argued that such criticisms of Leopold are unfair and misplaced. According to Callicott, Leopold lies outside of mainstream moral theory. Thus, the question is not, what quality does the land possess that makes it worthy of moral standing? But rather, how do we feel about the land Callicott, ? In this light, the land ethic can be seen as an injunction to broaden our moral sentiments beyond self-interest, and beyond humanity to include the whole biotic community.