Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ecological Stewardship: Prologomena to Ethical Analysis of a Concept

Many of us can learn to write objectively, stating the argument for the 350 ppm and what ethical obligations are (as I did), but Wikipedia's editors didn't like that.

Some folks strongly state their own positions and weakly state the other, though to the best of their abilities.

Let me point out that, during my days growing up in Christian churches, the effective presentation of the opposite point of view was sometimes SO strong that we learned something about the credibility of other viewpoints that we hadn't yet encountered, which obliged us to study those perspectives further. We began to see the outlines of other viewpoints.

That intellectual stimulation bends us towards researching, analyzing, and critical thinking. I credit the vigorous debates with doing that for me.

The better side SHOULD win out when we serve reason in the process of engaging the hearts and minds of others. The better judgment SHOULD prevail; when it fails, that's a mark against shallow 'humanism',l which is far too often triumphalist, and we know that's not the way things are going bioethically or humanely or

Humanism reached beyond the world wars (the so-called 'death of humanism' with the holocausts and other genocides was prematurely announced) with (read Vannevar Bush's "Science - The Unending Frontier" - 1945) technologism. Every technology is likely short-sighted and introduced prematurely (as, I suggest, are universal healthcare in the USA or 'health reform' and healthcare IT), but 'we' (others more qualified than we) improve them with the 'trial and error' step-wise refinement.

Sheldon Krimsky asked me in a course at Tufts UEP years ago, "Can 'technological fixes' be found for environmental problems?" Good professors don't take sides indelibly, though we know where each person 'stands' intellectually. "Make your argument either way!" Yes, time is short, but Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia, not a website nor a host for polemics and 'action items'. I wish you had taken a look at it while it was up and dispatched someone effective to make some key contributions (even links). That would have postponed the discussion on 'climate ethics' which is a distinct inquiry beyond but touching upon 'climate justice'. 'Climate ethics' is about ethics and why 'the surround' (a psychiatric term for all that surrounds and 'encompasses' - as Karl Jaspers would say - the human individual. Is there something about CLIMATE that makes CLIMATE morally significant, which fact is intellectually 'available' to philosophical inquirers? I say, yes, there is, but only upon solemn reflection, and because we are 'busied' inauthentically with tangential issues and 'full of our selves' (again, credit to religious philosophers for that one, particularly Evangelicals) in terms of our 'immediate perspectives', we steal needed energies of mind and analysis from pressing issues of truly moral import: the 'surround' IS changed by human effort; quantification is what is at issue. Can any one species, given technological 'enhancements' or 'extensions' (McLuhan) so impact the planet that on local planets, the entire climate is disrupted? We think that empirical inquiry feeds us information with which we can answer that question affirmatively. does that impact result in part from us? If it does and it is not salubrious, are we morally culpable for outcomes? In other words, can there be ANY areas in which climate is a stewardship issue, and/or any areas in which culpability can be correctly assigned to human persons, groups, or the species in toto? Debates come in here, but again, we think that, IF the data shows that any of these can be answered affirmatively (and we believe that they can in the latter two cases), there is reason to discuss 'climate responsibility' or, responsibility for climate stewardship.

Without climate stewardship, how can (terms like) 'climate justice' be useful or intelligible terms?

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