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* Correspondence to: Prof. Dr. Hab.

Włodzimierz Tyburski, Institute of Philosophy, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Fosa Staromiejska 1a, 87-100 Torun´, Poland. E-mail: Sustainable Development Sust. Dev. 16, 100–108 (2008) Published online 12 November 2007 in Wiley InterScience ( DOI: 10.1002/sd.342

Origin and Development of Ecological Philosophy and Environmental Ethics and Their Impact on the Idea of Sustainable Development
Włodzimierz Tyburski* Włodzimierz Tyburski, Institute of Philosophy, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Poland
ABSTRACT A critical review of environmental philosophy and environmental ethics is discussed in relation to the idea of sustainable development. The article makes reference to 19th century infl uences that inspired thought orientated towards protecting the natural environment, and then presents the stages of the development of ecological philosophy, the main standpoints and their representatives. The main features of Polish eco-philosophical thought are presented together with an outline of the most signifi cant achievements of these disciplines on a global scale. The infl uence of environmental philosophy and ethics on social aspects of sustainable development is also presented. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.
Received 5 Febuary 2007; revised 7 May 2007; accepted 22 June 2007 Keywords: ecological philosophy; environmental ethics; anthropocentrism; biocentrism; holism; sustainable development




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and integrate the organizational efforts of whole communities and search for various ways to halt adverse processes. We need varied technical and technological actions, an active effort in many scientifi c fi elds (natural sciences, economics and law) and on the part of organizers of social life, people representing different spheres and interests but united by a common idea, the struggle to halt the damage to the human natural environment. These disciplines possess a large number of possibilities to raise consciousness, creating attitudes, justifi cations and motivations.

phenomena and tendencies. to reveal their mechanisms and also to engage actively in the stream of practical actions. it makes its own signifi cant contribution to the work of building new thought about humans and the natural world. ecological philosophy strives to show the collection of philosophical. aiming to project a vision of the future and to build a model of civilization orientated towards ecological needs. on the one hand. axiological and educational dimensions. eco-psychology. They complement the natural sciences. in order that moral values should represent an important criterion regulating these relations. for example. also defi ned as ecological humanism.This fi eld of activity includes environmental protection. Environmental Ethics and Sustainable Development 101 Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons. including philosophical. Both ecological philosophy and environmental ethics have clearly defi ned the object of their research interests and have already achieved a high level of methodological self-awareness. There is no doubt that the situation in which the modern world and civilization have found themselves represents a great challenge for philosophy and ethics. with a range of new components. They should also temper potential confl icts between human activities and nature and enable such choices to be made that would favour the preservation of ecological balance in situations where humans intervene in the world of nature. They are also contributing signifi cantly to the theory and practice of ecological education as well as to specifi c actions in the sphere of protecting the natural world. Ltd and ERP Environment Ecological Philosophy. There is the need to refer theoretically to global processes. This is best seen in the unquestionable contribution of ecological philosophy to the construction of the foundations of the idea fi rst of eco-development and now of sustainable development. eco-aesthetics or eco-theology. On the other hand. An integral component is philosophical–ethical thought together with other disciplines of the humanities: ecopedagogy. Therefore. In turn. ethical refl ection presents and justifi es the desirable hierarchy of values and enriches inordinately all attempts to answer the fundamental questions: how should people behave towards their natural environment and why should they act in this way? With this aim it wishes to develop an axiological model of preferences in the relations between humans and nature. . The consciousness of the need to protect the nature is confi rmed by philosophical–ethical refl ection by the effects of its results.1002/sd dangerous for the natural world. cultural and world-view conditions that in the modern era have generated radically utilitarian positivist–technocratic thought and whose practical consequences have proved to be highly Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons. Dev. Ltd and ERP Environment Sust. 100–108 (2008) DOI: 10. adapting it for their needs. 16. economics and law.

Ltd and ERP Environment Sust. were established in a reasonably mature form in the 1960s and 1970s. which are based on expressing the primary text of nature. which – especially in the works of Emerson and Thoreau – stands out so distinctly that they remained in public consciousness – not only for their contemporaries – great apologists for and lovers of nature. Theodore Parker and Margaret Fuller. Tyburski Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons. His philosophy proclaimed the idea of harmonious accord and interdependence of the natural and human worlds. The philosopher was convinced that nature could become a kind of teacher for people. in which the most important positions were held by such thinkers as Ralph Waldo Emerson.1002/sd when we discover its deepest meanings. Henry David Thoreau. we need to go back to the second half of the 19th century. What is needed is a change in looking at ourselves and at what surrounds us. By discovering the primary text of nature we can begin an authentic dialogue with it. Their works give voice to the idea of respect for nature. Emerson believes that it is of much greater value when we forego the attitude of dominance and experience a fusion with nature and become conscious of our kinship and substantial identifi cation with everything that surrounds us. Language only fulfi ls this kind of role 102 W. Without opposing people’s technical intervention in the world of nature. 16. Since then their rapid and dynamic development has been visible. In order to reach the earliest sources and the emergence of ecological thought. It owes its peculiar properties to its various dimensions. gaining a relatively high degree of resonance. 1992) openly criticized the purely utilitarian treatment of nature. This aim is unattainable for those who limit themselves to narrowly utilitarian actions and what is called scientifi c reason. mainly in the United States. 100–108 (2008) DOI: 10. It is Emerson’s belief that language is of particular importance in revealing the true nature of existence. when such a trend appeared in American literature. This skill of communing with nature and conducting his own interpretation of dialogue with it was . forgotten in everyday life. since they can perceive its internal order and harmony. It found followers among representatives of New England transcendentalism – a literary–philosophical movement with a diverse ideological provenance. Dev. embracing with a ‘new look’ our existence in its substantial unity with the world. Emerson (Gromczyn´ski. together with their object of interest.International Perspective Ecological philosophy and environmental ethics.

Thoreau’s book and Emerson’s philosophical thought became the source of inspiration for the world view of many creators and thinkers fascinated by this idea: Chekhov. These ideas also touched the style of Aldo Leopold. full of admiration for nature. the position in the matter of environmental protection that is defi ned as preservation. Thoreau. author of the famous and excellent essays collected under the title ‘Walden. but I respect them both equally. I love wildness no less than goodness’ and he added ‘goodness is the only investment that never disappoints’ (Thoreau. was also a kind of manifesto declared in defence of wild nature. considered to be the father of ecological philosophy and environmental ethics in its various versions. Nature should be considered as an ethical good to which humans should show commitment. It is he who has most expressively presented the main principle of the idea of preservation. or Life in the Woods’. It dismisses the belief in the purely ancillary role of nature towards humankind and does not accept utilitarianism because it confers value on nature only to the degree to which it is a requisite of human prosperity and benefi t. He thus initiated. for its own sake. 1854). Instead he expressed the view that the interests of non-human beings should be taken into consideration for their own sake and not only when they serve human aims and needs. He emphasized that nature as a whole. an eminent activist in the fi eld of environmental protection. who called for these areas to be left untouched by human activity and declared the superiority of wild animals over domestic ones. and above all it formed the American mentality. declaring ‘like the majority of people I am drawn to both the sublime and the sphere of the primitive and the wild. had a value in its own right and had the right to exist and to last in the form most appropriate for it. then formulating an additional postulate – the protection of nature. particularly regarding areas of wilderness in the United States. whose supporters strive to preserve the environment and to leave it in a state changed as little as possible. He was the precursor of the idea of the protection of wild nature and a eulogist for wilderness. In these essays he expressed his love for wild nature. His literary output. Among others to fi nd themselves under the spell of these ideas was John Muir. This is why in his well known book A Sand County . D. Tolstoy. Gandhi. particularly wild nature. The duty of humans is to respect this fact. and not selected wild areas as Muir postulated.mastered by H. on a practical level.

The correct answer to this. which generated the new disciplines of refl ection of ecological philosophy and environmental ethics. then. With some justifi cation. 1948) he presents the proposition of the so-called land ethic. What is not right. friends and country. Leopold’s heir and continuator.1002/sd (1989). Callicott’s views became the direct inspiration for the creative activity of one of the most eminent . Baird Callicott Ecological Philosophy. Leopold claims. connected with the obligation of protecting all component parts of the biotic community. and thanks to his professional preparation was able to avoid the mistakes and transgressions of which his predecessor was accused. Leopold is widely recognized as the precursor of these disciplines. holistic ethics is not only connected with certain obligations towards Earth. For this philosopher. 16. its theoretical justifi cation and also the construction of a new way of thinking called the ecocentric paradigm. Environmental Ethics and Sustainable Development 103 Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons. especially the committing of the naturalistic error. Leopold’s thoughts from his book A Sand County Almanac played an inspirational role in establishing this style of thinking. which from the start poses the question not only as to what is profi table from the economic point of view. the academic philosopher J.Almanac (Leopold. 100–108 (2008) DOI: 10. The ideas of the amateur philosopher and forester had enthusiastic followers but were also the subject of criticism on the part of those who practised philosophy professionally and indicated the lack of theoretical justifi cation and found inconsistencies in his thinking. He proposes a new way of thinking. Ltd and ERP Environment Sust. stability and beauty of the biotic community. Leopold criticizes the system of nature protection based exclusively on economic benefi ts while ignoring many elements of the earth’s community that have no utilitarian values but are indispensable for it to function healthily. is what is not benefi cial for this. but also requires sacrifi ces for its good. This ethic widens the borders of the biotic community. on the other hand. analogously as we take obligations upon ourselves which are often bound up with renouncement towards our family. Here ethics plays an unusually far-reaching role. but also what is ethically and aesthetically right. His unquestionable achievement is the creative development of the idea of the ethic of communities. Callicott provided the philosophical bases for the holistically orientated ecological philosophy. Dev. creatively developed the thinking of the author of the land ethic. is based on the conviction that what is right is what benefi ts the preservation of the coherence.

Holmes Rolston III. He strived to construct a naturalistic concept of environmental ethics. For this reason. if we say that an entity has an innate value. while he based the relations of humans and nature by evoking the category of responsibility. but at the same time. the way of looking at the problem of the environment through the prism of the good of individual beings is predominant. In this. in accordance with traditional ethics. which means that we can think of them as deserving moral treatment and commitment. 1986). Taylor’s concept. a person of great merit in the global ecological movement (Rolston. especially business ethics with regard to the natural environment. According to the creator of the respect for nature ethic. as long as we consider an organism. and also that the achievement of its good has an intrinsic value of itself. Taylor. Rolston’s considerations are representative of environmental philosophy and ethics in their holistic version (Rolston. population or group of organisms as entities with innate value. we believe that they can never be treated as objects or things whose whole value depends on fulfi lling an instrumental function simply because they are members of the earth’s living community. In this context. 1989). . These disciplines focus on whole ecosystems and in practical postulates to place the good of the whole above the good of individual beings. because of it. He devoted much space in his considerations to the issue of values. which is simultaneously individualistic ethics. Thus. then that means that its good deserves to be the object of refl ection of moral subjects.representatives of holistic ecological philosophy. achieving their good is something intrinsically valuable. He indicated the link between facts and values. he spoke on many signifi cant issues included in considerations on sustainable development. This fact differentiates Rolston’s views from the biocentrically orientated environmental ethics of Paul W. he emphasized that such a transition is basically impossible from the point of view of formal logic. population and community of living beings possesses good (welfare) and intrinsic value. including an analysis of the weighty and diffi cult subject of the transition from values to facts and the search for a way to avoid the naturalistic error. he analysed business relations. taken on the local and global scale. called ‘respect for nature’ (Taylor. He evoked the principles and rules that should be followed by politics with regard to the natural environment. He developed the idea of holistic philosophy with the primacy of the good of whole ecosystems over individual good. The attitude of respect for nature should result from the conviction that every organism. is one of the best known versions of environmental ethics. 1989).

The creator of deep ecology. It sees no need to construct any new ethics and believes that it is possible to solve environmental problems caused by civilization within the framework of the existing tradition. according to the concept maintained in the spirit of anthropocentrism.On the other hand. Another. the anthropocentric version of the environmental protection ethic. so humankind. what religions are most benefi cial for life on this planet as a whole’.. namely (a) whether their consequences are 104 W. 100–108 (2008) DOI: 10. the eminent Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess. 1980). Deep ecology expresses a decided criticism of the positivist–technocratic model of the development of civilization. is deep ecology. and one of the most popular trends in current environmental thought. and he adds that social and humanist knowledge cannot diverge from the answers to these questions (Seed et al. 16. We can say. whose name stresses the fact that in its postulates it decidedly exceeds the way of thinking characteristic of shallow ecology. Tyburski Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons. Within this way of thinking. Ltd and ERP Environment Sust. therefore. but these obligations are always based on the fact that how we treat these ecosystems and living communities can only affect the realization of human values and rights. whose best known representative is John Passmore. what system of education. It proposes new ecological thinking. 1988). rejects the moral status of non-human beings and thereby the widening of the scope of morality (Passmore. that human actions regarding the natural environment and its non-human inhabitants are actually dependent on whether they fulfi l two criteria. Dev. these duties and actions lose their moral character when their only and direct addressee is the environment.1002/sd benefi cial (or detrimental) for human prosperity and (b) whether they comply (or do not comply) with the system of norms that protect human rights. The duties formulated on the basis of anthropocentrically orientated environmental ethics have moral character only because of their fi nal receiver. . Thus we can have obligations that concern the natural ecosystems and biocentric communities of our planet. reasons that the essence of ecological thinking is the posing of deep questions about ‘what society. aggressive market economics and the consumer lifestyle. the concept of ‘green politics’ aimed at protecting and defending the wealth and variety of forms of life and in the sphere of economics ‘green economics’ responsible for action on behalf of economically self-suffi cient bioregions and lifestyles motivated by postulates of restrained consumerism.

W. Rollin. The majority of these publications referred directly to the views of the aforementioned representatives of eco-philosophical thought. R. J. 1992). W. E. developing them creatively. They demand deep and radical change in the consciousness of society. The author. speaking in the name of and on behalf of all forms of life. Midgley. He presents a system of values elaborated on its basis (eco-values). the next publication devoted to the problem of environmental ethics was published. Therefore. the ethic of respect for nature by Paul W. Bonenberg’s book Environmental Ethics: Assumptions and Directions was published (Bonenberg. Clark. Goldsmith. 1990). Hargrove. B. referring to the vast literature. they believe that raw materials and other natural goods are not only for people. the author focuses above all on highlighting and analysing the axiological. K Franken.Deep ecology. Marek M. J. 1993). One of the fi rst papers was On the Idea of Ecological Humanism (Tyburski. Around the Issues of Ecological Humanism (Tyburski. the individualistic ethics of Robin Attfi eld. Among other philosophers we will mention A. the ethical implications of the Gaia hypothesis. indicating their own standpoints and ways of thinking. T. M. In 1993. Regan. but also for all living beings. Alongside a presentation of the main standpoints in environmental ethics. S. seeks a better form for the relations between people and other living beings inhabiting Earth. deontological and educational dimension of the new discipline. analyses the concepts of Tom Regan. Baird Callicott. Polish Perspective In Poland ecological philosophy and environmental ethics became the object of serious interest and studies at the end of the 1980s. which was the fi rst very competent presentation of the main standpoints in environmental ethics in Polish literature. a set of norms Ecological Philosophy. In scientifi c study they place a broad defi nition of science and holistic thought before a narrow defi nition and analytical thought. Attfi eld. In 1992. Edward Goldsmith’s biosphere ethics and eco-ethics by Henryk Skolimowski. extending moral rights to non-human beings. Taylor. a book by the present author entitled Unite with the Earth. Environmental Ethics and Sustainable Development 105 . C. Sweed and others. E. At the basis of this change should be the conviction that forms of life do not form pyramids with our species at the summit. deep ecology. the land ethic by Aldo Leopold and J. Lovelock. the ecocentric theory of Holmes Rolston III. but rather a circle in which everything is linked with everything. Its supporters contend that it is a misconception of the human race that we identify all values with human values. Nash.

For the fi rst time.Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons. A. A New Look at the Place of Humans in Nature (Pia/tek. This fact is highlighted by the title of the work: Economics–Ecology–Ethics (Tyburski. J. 16. a section was created devoted to the issues of environmental ethics. The issues dealt with in the aforementioned publication were drawn on in a further collective work. 1996b). taking a biocentric point of view and arguing for the recognition of the following points: • not only humans. Dol ´e/ga.1002/sd and principles of behaviour and a programme of ecological education as seen from the perspective of environmental ethics. How should people behave towards their natural surroundings and why should they behave thus? How far is economic rationality compatible with ecological rationality? In which direction should the economic transformation go in order that the effects of actions serving economic purposes should not cause negative ecological consequences? What catalogue of values can link ecological and economic policies? What elements form the contemporary ideology of environmental protection? The problem of ecological philosophy is the object of interest of Konrad Waloszczyk. but also non-human living beings. Z. An important event. in 1995. have an intrinsic value. Tyburski. The directions of the considerations presented in it provide a catalogue of far-reaching questions. 1996) deserves particular attention. In line with its title. economics and ethics presented the results of their investigations. Dev. The result of the very fruitful deliberations was the publication Eco-Philosophy and Bioethics (Tyburski. Zdzisl ´awa Pia/tek is the author of a very interesting dissertation entitled Environmental Ethics. Hull. In 1998. eco-philosophy and bioethics. 100–108 (2008) DOI: 10. 1998). the fruit of a symposium in which researchers interested in the connections between ecology. M. that had repercussions on the further development of environmental ethics and ecological philosophy. Ltd and ERP Environment Sust. was the Sixth Convention of Polish Philosophy in Torun´. but also non-human living beings. His dissertation entitled The Ecological Crisis in the Light of Eco-Philosophy (Waloszczyk. • not only humans. it proposes a new look at non-human living beings that make up the Earth’s biosphere. . Papuzin´ski and others. two important works were published devoted to environmental ethics. 1996a). Pia/tek. which included papers by Z. W. realize their characteristic vital values and know how to live in accordance with their own nature.

The biosphere should not be exploited and managed only from the point of view of human interests. Dol ´e/ga (1998). The fullest expression and analysis of the ecological problem. 100–108 (2008) DOI: 10. had the common conviction that what is happening at the meeting point of ethics and ecology is very signifi cant. Selected issues in environmental ethics are analysed from the same position by the priests Tadeusz S´lipko and Andrzej Zwolin´ski in the book entitled The Crossroads of Ecology (S´lipko and Zwolin´ski.• not only humans. Dev. It is also worth noting that there have been attempts to construct an environmental ethic from the position of Christian thought. been discussed and analysed by Zbigniew Hull. culturist ecological philosophy transforms the problem of the natural environment into knowledge about the ecological diffi culties of contemporary culture. Different aspects of ecological ethics and philosophy have. 1998). By highlighting the social role of philosophy. Theoretical and Practical Implications (Tyburski. The same year a collective work entitled Environmental Ethics. despite theoretical and methodological differences. 1999). but also every living being. which found its full expression in the book Life-Science-Ecology. who. he pays particular attention to the philosophical foundations of sustainable 106 W. Tyburski Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons. 1995). 1998) was published. is a measure of those aspects of the environment with which it must cooperate in order to live. however. An example is the work by the priest Julisl ´aw L´ ukomski entitled An Attempt to Construct a Christian Ethic of the Natural Environment (L´ ukomski. . Jan Wawrzyniak analyses the problems of environmental ethics from another. The works of Andrzej Papuzin´ski also deserve attention. assimilation of this knowledge by society may transform the existing world. 1999).1002/sd development (Hull. and that the world of human relations with nature has a deep axiological dimension which requires theoretical refl ection and practical action. is to be found in the works of Józef M. 16. naturalistic position. The conference gathered nearly all the researchers specializing in this discipline. He proposed the interesting concept of culturist ecological philosophy. Ltd and ERP Environment Sust. presenting the results of the fi rst national conference devoted to various aspects of environmental ethics. for many years. Introduction to Culturist Ecological Philosophy (Papuzin´ski.

2004). Pyra devoted to the ´ . W. Of the latest publications worthy of note is an interesting monograph by L. S. M. controversial discussion on the relations between humans and nature and what he calls a new look at the place and duties of humans in the world of nature. The second. 1999). In turn. was published under the title An Introduction to the Philosophical Problems of Ecology (Papuzin´ski. signifi cantly broadened and modifi ed. Pawl ´owski is also the editor of two volumes of dissertations on the subject of philosophical and social conditions for sustainable development (Pawl ´owski 1999. Z. a survey and analysis of the basic catalogue of the subjects of eco-philosophy are presented in the latest book by Stefan Konstan´czak. 2002) – the result of a conference organized by the Centre of Human Ecology and Bioethics at Cardinal Stefan Wyszyn´ski University in Warsaw. Papuzin´ski. the problem of environmentalism is popularized by Wiesl ´aw Sztumski. 2000). Theoretical Foundations of Naturalistic Environmental Ethics (Wawrzyniak. The degree of advancement of research on ecophilosophical problems led to a fi rst attempt to sum up the achievements so far. that was also the fi rst academic textbook from the fi eld of ecological philosophy. L astowski. Artur Pawl ´owski speaks on the subject of humans’ responsibility for nature. while philosophical premises found at the basis of the concept of sustainable development are analysed by Leszek Gawor. while Andrzej Kiepas examines various aspects of the ecological problem from the perspective of technical philosophy. It should also be mentioned that in 1999 a collective work. 2003. including a very lively. Hull. edition of the book is currently being prepared. In turn. James Lovelock’s Gaia concept and Arne Naess’s concept of deep ecology. Dol ´e/ga and A. J. Tyburski. 1999). A survey of the main standpoints in eco-ethics is provided by Ignacy S. Five authors undertook this task: K. mainly devoted to the needs of academic didactics. Fiut in a book presenting the directions of environmentally friendly contemporary axiology (Fiut. referring to Hans Jonas’s concept of responsibility. A publication entirely devoted to environmental ethics and the popularization of its ideas is a collective work entitled Environmental Ethics as a Challenge for the 21st Century ( a vast dissertation. it also takes into account the output of Polish eco-philosophical and eco-ethical thought of the last dozen or more years.

Z. Jaronie. parasitic. This is predatory thinking regarding nature and it is in it that we should perceive the causes not only of ecological disasters but also social and ideological disasters. De/bowski. another way of perceiving humans in the whole scheme of nature. 100–108 (2008) DOI: 10. but another way of reading reality. The problem of ecological philosophy and environmental ethics is also found in the works of other authors. Let us add that ecological philosophy and environmental ethics at last have their own journal. Bol ´oz. then above all we must change our predatory. which is at the basis of the developmental trends of modern civilization. therapeutic consciousness par excellence. integrating. Skolimowski proposes a holistic vision – one that gives a proper perspective of the wholes. L´ epko. Zie/ba. The Ecological Philosophy. nor of the value of science. analytical and pragmatic understanding to ecological understanding. Liszewski. It is to such a concept of discovering the world that ecological consciousness fully corresponds. Ciszek. Migus. Ltd and ERP Environment Sust. Wróblewski and S. A. provides a one-sided interpretation of reality. being a holistic. His writing has found a permanent place in eco-philosophical thought.views of Holmes Rolston III (Pyra. from mechanistic. Z. and that these disciplines are systematically taught at many Polish universities. At the basis of the new consciousness lies the assumption that the world is a sanctuary. Skowron´ski. J. Z. Kos´micki. which is not a negation of the value of progress. M. There is no saving the Earth without a change in our consciousness. In this very brief review of the standpoints. within the framework of which the place of its individual fragments can be revealed. and at the same time being in opposition to mechanistic consciousness. Francuz. 16. this idea redefi nes humans’ relationship with the surrounding natural reality and reveals a new optic of . we must mention the works of Henryk Skolimowski. D. Pawl ´owski). In Skolimowski’s opinion. materialistic consciousness to a reverential one. including W. trends and orientations of ecological philosophy and environmental ethics. Environmental Ethics and Sustainable Development 107 Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons. E. 2003). according to Skolimowski. Latawiec.1002/sd direction of creative transformations should lead. This philosopher says that the paradigm of mechanistic and positivist thought. G. Instead of atomistic tunnel vision. A. If we wish to declare peace with the Earth. Dev. Problems of Eco-Development (edited by A. J.

They are presented in many publications. Skolimowski is convinced that the ideas he proposes are able to provide the proper inspiration for all those who are looking for sense in a world threatened by civilization. The role of one of the supreme values in this ethic is taken on by responsibility – responsibility for one’s own life. as well as the concept of the development of the world and the vision of the future. Therefore. respect and reverence. among them in Hope is the Mother of the Wise or Living Philosophy (Skolimowski. Such an attitude is at the same time an axiological principle of ecological ethics. What we should do is to see the reality surrounding us through ecological spectacles. opting for biocentrism. our way of thinking was dominated by perceiving the world from an economic perspective. It is this philosopher’s belief that. we must take the role of custodian and carer. says Skolimowski. In the area of environmental ethics. Conclusion Despite differences revealed between individual viewpoints. all agree on the role of ethics in the ecological education of society. and all indicate the need to . behaving with respect and love for the whole of life and the environment. there are also many common areas. It is not possible to present the wealth of discussion here. the environment and the future of the whole planet. until now. but as an example let us focus on a few selected matters. political and even religious thinking. is to think ecologically. discussions and polemics continue mainly between followers of anthropocentrism and representatives of weak anthropocentrism together with those who question the homocentric point of view. 1993). The objects of heated debate and sometimes trenchant polemics are the various views on the place of humans in the universe. Also in Poland. also through various judgements on contemporary culture and civilization. on the different perceptions of a supreme value and theoretical questions of justifi cation. In addition. This concerns technical. ecological philosophy is a matrix of a new understanding of the cosmos and of a proper cooperation with nature and the whole world.varied relations with it. In the world regarded as a sanctuary. 1989. the prosperity of future generations. There is no doubt that the representatives of all the directions in environmental ethics are convinced of the need to broaden the ethical value and to subject human activity in nature to a moral evaluation. the problem of ecological philosophy and environmental ethics is an area where academic discussion of various options. standpoints and directions is conducted. to think well. based on veneration. Today.

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