Toward a Practice of Ecological Environmental Ethics: A New"Ecological Casuistry" for Case-Based Decisionmaking Based on Emerging Principles of Ecological Science
Keywords : ethics, casuistry, ecology, land ethic, consensus, rhetoric, probability,values, integrity, paradigm, intrinsic. nature
This article proposes and argues for an operationalized“landethic”that can respond adequately and appropriately to bothroutine environmental decision-making and unique cases of "slowdisasters": the sudden increase in the pace of global warming, forestfires,tsunamis,hurricanes and earthquakes,glacier retreat,andrapid extinction events, for example. l suggest a fresh rhetoricalconstruction of the basis of our environmental decision-makingprocesses. Founded on the principles implied in culturally specificproverbs and aphorisms, this bottom-up practice of applied ethics isbased on the work of Stephen Toulmin and Albert Jonsen (1988), apractice they formulated for bioethics and dubbed "the newcasuistry." I propose the extension of this practice into the realm ofenvironmental decisionmaking,based on emerging scientificprinciples as the equivalent of the ethical proverbs and maximsrelied upon in the practice of pre-modern casuistry.
The operation of this process l base on the intrinsic values andfirst principles enunciated in Aldo Leopold's Land Ethic (1949), thesecond-order Principles of Ecological Integrity developed by LauraWestra (1994,1998),and the scientifically validated principles andpractices of ecology. The post-modern problem encountered istraditional ethics' difficulty in coming to grips with these emergingperspectives. l recruit the rehabilitated practice of casuistry as aprobabilistic approach to replace that of logical positivism and thesearch for axiological principles to explain the working of the world. Here, l propose that we extend environmental ethics beyondhuman society, to develop a basis for a moral, ecocentric view ofethical decision-making that appropriates this method of casuistryin the application of Leopoid's Land Ethic as a basis for theconstruction of asustainable,ecology-based, post-modernecological ethics.