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EVSP508 Week 2 Forum Post

EVSP508 Week 2 Forum Post

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Published by mark_cave
My week 2 forum posting for the Environmental Ethics course I'm taking online at American Military University, in pursuit of a MS in Environmental Policy & Management (Concentration: Environmental Sustainability)
My week 2 forum posting for the Environmental Ethics course I'm taking online at American Military University, in pursuit of a MS in Environmental Policy & Management (Concentration: Environmental Sustainability)

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Published by: mark_cave on Dec 18, 2011
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11/14/2012

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American Military University - EVSP508: Environmental Ethics
Week 2 Forum Topic: Animal Rights & Non-Western Views
 
The Assignment
In Week 2 we continue to look at the "big picture" of environmental ethics by considering animal rights and non-western views. These issues are intertwined and the conversations between the philosophers in each discipline canoften get heated. As you think about animal rights, think about the arguments for preserving nature and how animalrights both support and complicate these notions.For your original forum thread this week, focus on one of the following questions. Your original post should be welldeveloped and supported by academic, graduate level research. Be sure to properly cite all reference resources usedto develop your arguments, to include course assigned readings and outside research as appropriate. Follow APAstyle for all assignments throughout this course.1. The reading by Lily De Silva states that Buddha pronounced "Cittena niyata loko," meaning that "the world is ledby the mind." In her conclusion, she also states "Buddhism teaches that mind is the forerunner of all things, mind issupreme." Assuming that these statements are a fundamental truth, how do they both explain our presentenvironmental crisis and also provide the solution? Please address the issue first, from De Silva's perspective, thenprovide a critique from your point of view.- -or - -2. Animal ethic beliefs range from Kant's belief that we owe animals no moral obligations to Tom Regan's belief thatanimals have the same intrinsic values as humans and advocates total abolition of the use of animals in agriculture,science, hunting, etc. Which of the writings on animal rights do you believe provide the best argument for the moralstatus, and resulting ethical obligations to animals? Support your critique.
My forum posting for #2
 
The chapter 2 essays
on animal rights range from Immanuel Kant‟s ethic of there being no moral obligat
ion for humanstowards animals;
through Peter Singer‟s
utilitarian middle-road ethic, which proposes that moral values should be basedon sentience, the ability to experience enjoyment and suffering
; to Tom Regan‟s strictly inherent values argument that
humanity must take an absolute moral stand against animal use/abuse in all forms. (2011).
While I most closely identify with Regan‟s ethic, I also reject it for being absurdly impossible to implement. The other 
ethics appeal to me for their greater practicality; however, I quite frankly also find them lacki
ng. They don‟t incorporate
the ideal of an overarching theme of harmony and mutually beneficial coexistence between humans and nature that, inorder to achieve continuing sustainability of life on earth, I feel must be appreciatively translated into societal policies andpractices.On a basic, almost spiritual level I can identify
 – 
or at least empathize with Regan, based on this, my interpretation of hiscentral argument:All
lives
are intrinsically valuable,
and it‟s impossible and wrong
to assign an amount or measure of such intrinsicvalue to the life of any individual animal or to the lives of an individual species. Anyone who accepts that intrinsicvalue perspective as fact must therefore, to avoid being grossly hypocritical, conclude that
all
lives are to be valuedas pricelessly equal.
However, I feel that Regan‟s stand is – 
on both a practical and a philosophical level
 – 
too strictly extreme. On thepractical level, billions of people from many different cultures have been using animals for centuries, in one, more thanone, or all of the ways that Regan aims to somehow end at some unknown point in time. Now I fully appreciate that suchan
argument will quickly be countered by those who would say that citing the impracticality of an ethic‟s imp
lementationdoes not make the ethic incorrect or illogical. In many ways I ag
ree. Still, there‟s a subtle point that I‟m trying to
communicate, one which I assert obscurely shows that the ethic actually
is
illogical because of its impracticality.
 
In trying to flush out and put sensible form to my assertion, I must move to discussing my philosophical difficulties withthe ethic. I think 
Regan‟
s unbending position ignores the basic
yin and yang
of things. I use that
“yin and yang”
termin a very
simple, layman way, not as if I‟m a
Taoist philosopher, or a practitioner of Zen yoga or the martial art form,Tajiquan, and have developed a deep understanding of the concept.While scrounging around to find a quotable definition of yin and yang that works for my use of the term here, the best oneI could find very unfortunately comes from the internet site that I think is the bane of all college professors: Wikipedia.In Asian philosophy, the concept of yin yang... is used to describe how polar opposites or seemingly contraryforces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn.In relationships within nature, and in the relationships between humanity and nature
 – 
more specifically for thisdiscussion, between humanity and all other species, especially sentient ones
 – 
there should be a natural harmony of existence.Within nature, that harmony is just there. Predator and prey, representing polar opposite and contrary forces in manyways, are interconnected and interdependent and they give rise to each other in turn (i.e. the prey gives sustenance to the
 predator, while the predator culls the weak and sick for sustainable perpetuation of the prey‟s species) .
 For us humans that harmony of existence can only be advanced by our deep and abiding appreciation of it, whereby wevigilantly and persistently strive to be respectful, even reverential, towards all Nature, including sentient animals, wild ordomesticated. The more that such reverential respect is honestly practiced, in terms of agriculture and sustenance,scientific and medical research, sport hunting, textile production, energy creation, etcetera, the more harmoniously,healthfully, and likely will all life on earth be sustained.T
o me, Regan‟s (and Buddhism‟s) extremist requirement that all animals be untouched by humans
moves humanity andnature out of yin and yang harmony with each other. Therefore, if it ever becomes possible to abolish all animal useactivities, doing so will
counterintuitively create disharmony and eventually lead to negative consequences for species‟
health and sustainability.The other animal rights ethical beliefs that we are discussing either carry an implied recognition of the need for harmonywithin nature and between humanity and nature, or do not prevent such harmony from taking place. Therefore, I must, inthe end, express greater agreement with them than with Regan.However,
I‟m still conflicted
. Both of the utilitarian
theories, especially Kant‟s strict “no moral obligation to animals”
theory, speak of humans using nature, and animals in nature, for humans. (2011) I assert that discussions about animalrights should first and foremost seek to change the argument, from one about the existence or nonexistence of animalrights to one about how humans will achieve harmonious and interdependent coexistence with nature.So my position on the rights of animals and their value compared to humans agrees with that of Regan on a basic intuitivelevel but breaks away from him upon consideration of his extremist call for abolition of all uses of (i.e. interactions with)animals; and my position that humans need to assign high value to animals, in the form of reverence/respect, conflictswith the more practical but hierarchical utilitarian ethics of Kant and Singer.I think my viewpoint on animal ethics best aligns with environmental pragmatism, since I am most concerned with gettingthe message out that rather than debate the existence and extent of rights/value for animals, we need to appreciate that theway humans are currently treating animals and nature is disharmonious, and consequently destructive to all forms of life.Per Palmer:
But as Light and Katz argue “pragmatists canno
t tolerate theoretical delays to the contribution that philosophymay make
to environmental questions.” Environmental pragmatism, then, is concerned to develop strategies by
which environmental ethics can contribute to the resolution of practical environmental problems. (2011)I conclude by first turning
to Prince Charles of Wales‟s
eloquent words for the concept of harmonious interdependencebetween the human and natural worlds:Studying the properties of harmony and understanding more clearly how it works at all levels of creation revealsa crucial, timeless principle: that no one part can grow well and true without it relating to
 – 
and being in

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