Excerpts from ▹ Ecology: An Ethical Perspective
By: J. B. Callicott (Uni. Distinguished Research Prof. Department of Philosophy and Religion Studies, Uni. of North Texas) © 2012 Nature Education
➵ To realize the ethical perspective of ecology requires the universal adoption of the evolutionary‐ecological worldview through science education, followed by a translation of that worldview into policy and practice.
➵ The sciences and the facts they disclose do inform our values and transform our ethics — and well they should.
➵ Ecology is not only a science, it is also a worldview. Through the lens of ecology, we now view the components of the natural environment as internally related, whereas before the advent of ecology, we viewed the components of the natural environment as externally related. Ecology grew out of evolutionary biology and so viewing the environment through its lens also brings into focus an evolutionary as well as ecological ethical perspective. Not only does ecology inform our conception of the natural environment it reforms our conception of who we are as human beings. That, in turn, entails a reformed conception of the proper human relationship with the natural environment. Both the religious and philosophical legacies of Western civilization portrayed human beings as set apart from the rest of nature and licensed to treat the environment as a pool of "natural resources," valuable only to the extent that it satisfies vaunted human desires or preferences — whether impulsive desires or considered preferences. In other words, we have inherited a two‐and‐half millennium tradition of narrow anthropocentrism from Western civilization. From an evolutionary point of view, however, Homo sapiens, is, like all others, an evolved species. Certainly, we have evolved some very special and unique abilities, but do they entitle us to consider ourselves as uniquely privileged in comparison with all other species? The evolutionary‐ecological worldview is humbling.
➵ "If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. . . . To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering."
➵ An ecological ethic, Leopold (1949) concludes, "changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow members and also respect for the community as such." (Leopold, A. Sand County).