ExpandedEthics4712-Feb05 - Toward an Ethics of...

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Toward an Ethics of Sustainability (Charles J. Kibert, 2004) Introduction Ethics and Sustainable Development Distributional Equity Intergenerational Justice and the Chain of Obligation The Precautionary Principle The Reversibility Principle The Polluter Pays Principle Protecting the Vulnerable Avoiding Harm Rights of the Non-Human World Respect for Nature and the Land Ethic Sustainable Decisionmaking versus Once-Off Decisions Introduction Ethics, as we generally understand it today, is concerned with the dynamics of people in their relationships with one another. Ethics is the basis for good relationships between people and describes the principles that underpin these relationships. These principles provide society with explicit rules of conduct rooted in morality and justice . Because humans have free will and face numerous alternative choices in their actions or inaction, morality is needed to guide their decisions. Morality helps us in making appropriate decisions by helping us separate good and right options from those that are bad and wrong . Here good and right refer to goals and choices respectively that are moral while bad and wrong describe immoral goals and choices (Jahn 1999). Justice refers to the paramount right of all people to be treated fairly and includes determining these rights and assigning reward or punishment. Under the law litigants seek ‘justice’ by asking for compensation for wrongs committed against them; to right an inequity such that, with the compensation, a wrong has been righted and the balance of "good" or "virtue" over "wrong" or "evil" has been corrected (Duhaime 2004). The concept of evil emerges from consideration of good and bad, where evil, in contrast to good, is abnormal, a deviation from nature. Evil does not exist in isolation but is something good by nature that has a flaw or defect that turns it from its true nature. Food is certainly good but excessive consumption that produces obesity and disease can be considered evil. Sexual relations, a natural human need, are evil when conducted indiscriminately. Evil has two faces: idolization and perversion . Idolization is the error of taking a single, partial good and treating it as the complete good, stunting the capacity to enjoy other goods, as in the case of excessive food consumption. Perversion is turning natural desire toward improper objects, for instance, sexual abuse or a focus on a woman’s shoes rather than on the actual person (Jahn 1999). Ethics and Sustainable Development In the context of sustainable development, ethics must be broadened to address a wide range of concerns that are not usually a basis for consideration. Ethics, as we generally know it, addresses relationships between people today by providing rules of conduct that are generally
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agreed to govern good behavior of contemporaries. Sustainable development requires a more extensive set of ethical principles to guide behavior because it questions relationships between generations. The classic definition of sustainable development is ‘… meeting the needs of the
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This note was uploaded on 08/27/2011 for the course BCN 6585 taught by Professor Kibert during the Fall '08 term at University of Florida.

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ExpandedEthics4712-Feb05 - Toward an Ethics of...

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