Respect for Nature

Respect for Nature: A Theory of Environmental Ethics (25th Anniversary Edition)

Paul W. Taylor
WITH A NEW FOREWORD BY DALE JAMIESON
Copyright Date: 1986
Pages: 360
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7sk1j
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Respect for Nature
    Book Description:

    What rational justification is there for conceiving of all living things as possessing inherent worth? InRespect for Nature, Paul Taylor draws on biology, moral philosophy, and environmental science to defend a biocentric environmental ethic in which all life has value. Without making claims for the moral rights of plants and animals, he offers a reasoned alternative to the prevailing anthropocentric view--that the natural environment and its wildlife are valued only as objects for human use or enjoyment.Respect for Natureprovides both a full account of the biological conditions for life--human or otherwise--and a comprehensive view of the complex relationship between human beings and the whole of nature.

    This classic book remains a valuable resource for philosophers, biologists, and environmentalists alike--along with all those who care about the future of life on Earth. A new foreword by Dale Jamieson looks at how the original 1986 edition ofRespect for Naturehas shaped the study of environmental ethics, and shows why the work remains relevant to debates today.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3853-0
    Subjects: Philosophy, Biological Sciences, Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. FOREWORD TO THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Dale Jamieson

    When Paul TaylorʹsRespect for Naturewas published in 1986, it was an intellectually liberating event. Environmental ethics was a young field very much in search of its identity. While animals were on the academic agenda thanks to Peter Singer and Tom Regan, it was far from clear how to think sensibly about our moral relations with nonsentient nature. Environmental ethics had an uncertain relationship both to the academic world and to the environmental movement, sometimes seeming to combine the obscurantism of the former with the dogmatism of the latter. It is revealing that what were probably the two best...

  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. ONE ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS AND HUMAN ETHICS
    (pp. 3-58)

    Environmental ethics is concerned with the moral relations that hold between humans and the natural world. The ethical principles governing those relations determine our duties, obligations, and responsibilities with regard to the Earthʹs natural environment and all the animals and plants that inhabit it. I shall use the term ʺthe natural worldʺ to refer to the entire set of natural ecosystems on our planet, along with the populations of animals and plants that make up the biotic communities of those ecosystems.

    The idea of a natural ecosystem as it is to be understood in this book means any collection of...

  6. TWO THE ATTITUDE OF RESPECT FOR NATURE
    (pp. 59-98)

    In this and the following two chapters the three main components of the theory of environmental ethics which I call ʺRespect for Natureʺ will be considered in turn. The first component is the moral attitude of respect itself. In the present chapter I shall offer an analysis of what it means for moral agents to adopt such an attitude toward the natural world and make it their own ultimate moral attitude. The second component consists of the biocentric outlook on nature. In the next chapter this belief-system, which constitutes a unified, coherent view of the world and of the place...

  7. THREE THE BIOCENTRIC OUTLOOK ON NATURE
    (pp. 99-168)

    The attitude we think it appropriate to take toward living things depends on how we conceive of them and of our relationship to them. What moral significance the natural world has for us depends on the way we look at the whole system of nature and our role in it. With regard to the attitude of respect for nature, the belief-system that renders it intelligible and on which it depends for its justifiability is the biocentric outlook. This outlook underlies and supports the attitude of respect for nature in the following sense. Unless we grasp what it means to accept...

  8. FOUR THE ETHICAL SYSTEM
    (pp. 169-218)

    Two of the three parts of the theory of environmental ethics being defended here, the biocentric outlook and the attitude of respect for nature, have now been examined in detail. It remains for us to consider the third component, which is the system of standards and rules that moral agents would be guided by if they were to accept the biocentric outlook and take the attitude of respect for nature.

    As we saw in Chapter Two, when moral agents have the attitude of respect for nature they subscribe to a set of normative principles and hold themselves accountable for adhering...

  9. FIVE DO ANIMALS AND PLANTS HAVE RIGHTS?
    (pp. 219-255)

    In setting out a theory of environmental ethics in the preceding chapters I did not claim that animals or plants have rights. This omission was deliberate. For reasons I am going to give in this chapter, I wanted to construct and defend a theory of environmental ethics that does not rely on the idea of rights.

    The problem of whether animals and/or plants have rights involves two principal questions. The first is whether animals and plants are the sorts of things thatcanhave rights. The second is how we might establish the truth of the proposition that they do...

  10. SIX COMPETING CLAIMS AND PRIORITY PRINCIPLES
    (pp. 256-314)

    In this final chapter I consider the moral dilemmas that arise when human rights and values conflict with the good of nonhumans. Such conflicts occur whenever actions and policies that further human interests or fulfill human rights are detrimental to the well-being of organisms, species-populations, and life communities in the Earthʹs natural ecosystems. To put it another way, such conflicts occur whenever preserving and protecting the good of wild living things involves some cost in terms of human benefit. Clear examples are given in the following situations:

    Cutting down a woodland to build a medical center.

    Destroying a fresh water...

  11. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 315-324)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 325-329)