Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Natural Law and Environmental Ethics

One of the central principles in Natural Law is the idea of doing what is 'good' and avoiding what is 'evil'. This principle implies that exploitation and abuse of the environment would be wrong as it is something it is evil. However, humans are higher and have a higher purpose hence for those reasons we are allowed to control and use the environment just not exploit or abuse it.

For some Natural Law thinkers even controlling the environment is wrong because the telos of the natural world gives it intrinsic worth. Although, personally I believe this clashes with the telos of humans, the primary precepts. For example, reproduction and living are primary precepts and to be able to do this man needs to control the environment, to be able to provide food for his kin etc.

Some acts of destruction can be justified because if by destroying habitats one is able to provide shelter for humans then the principle of double effects say that consequences of the two must be weighed up and it seems fine to suggest animal loose their home for humans.

It is important though that we protect species because it is God's divine creation and by protecting and caring for them we are able to appreciate the creator and fulfil the primary purpose of worshipping God.

- Can lead to some positive changes in our society.
- Does not have radical or dangerous outcomes.
- Clear and easy to use.
- For theist obviously it is a benefit that they take God's creation into account.
- Some rules formulated by this theory don't work. For example, pollution is seen as evil as it destroys God's creation and causes harm to some humans (asthma). The theory suggests that pollution should not be committed to any degree however this is not realistic.
- Not universal - does not make sense why atheist should follow suit.
- Sometimes it is important to exploit some people or nature in order to promote long-term happiness which Natural Law dismisses.

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