Author: Ian Whyte, Ottawa.
This review is authored by a person actively engaged in the struggle (read battle) to protect the Earth in this time of environmental (and human) crises. Every person, with even a modicum of interest in the survival of the Earth as we know Her, and this should be all of us, ought to read this book.
Curry’s Ecological Ethics, which is eloquently written and easy to read, supplies a positive rationale for an ecocentric ethics. His goal “. . . to suggest a promising and reasonably coherent set of ethical ideas and practices based on ecocentric values. . .” is admirably achieved. In so doing, it supplies a rational basis for the philosophical foundation for much of that which I do.
Curry makes it plain that, although the existing ethical structure may have appeared to be sufficient in the past, it is seriously deficient when dealing with the natural world and indeed, has inexorably lead us to the current confluence of crises. The very axioms upon which the current ethical structure is built are incapable of dealing with modern ecological problems. It must adapt from being human focussed to include all creation. Curry starts “. . . from the belief, or perception, that nature – which certainly includes humanity – is the ultimate source of all value. . . . Not only does it have intrinsic value . . . but agency, intention, emotion: attributes which some arrogantly claim solely human, but which result from, and are properties of, the entire web of life. And relationships between subjects entail ethics.” It is especially gratifying that Curry, in a fairly gentle manner, often takes sides in the argument, and frequently forcefully states the conclusions derived from the discussion. (p 19 – “. . . behind these human caused changes is pathological ethics, not an absence of ethics.” and, p 6 – the problem is human caused “ecocide”.)
Curry discusses various kinds of ethics, and settles on virtue ethics (decisions based on a proper philosophical foundation informed and modified by long experience with the natural world) as the one most suitable, when combined with ecocentrism, with which to address the aforementioned crises. Ecocentric virtue ethics are then used to analyse many current paradigms, grouped under headings such as light green ethics, dark green ethics, Ecofeminism, and green citizenship. The last chapter addresses the issue of human overpopulation.
Curry does not advocate a absolutist ethics; at least twice he states that purism is not an option, p 14, 90, but rather is advising that existing ethics be modified in order to fit within and to accommodate ecocentric ethics. This book, Ecological Ethics, provides a solid philosophical foundation from which those who love the Earth may proceed, and I unreservedly recommend it.
Get this book! Read this book! Adopt the philosophy of this book!
Ecological Ethics, 2nd Edition (Patrick Curry, July 2011, Polity)