O'Reilly logo

A Companion to the Philosophy of Technology by Vincent F. Hendricks, Stig Andur Pedersen, Jan Kyrre Berg Olsen Friis

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

2. The Axiology of Environmental Ethics

Among philosophers and environmentalists, much discussion has centered on the problem of what matters morally in evaluating acts with an impact on the environment. Is it only the humans that matter, or is it also other sentient beings? Alternatively, should moral concern be extended to all living things and perhaps also to mountains or even ecosystems? These questions concern what we can call the axiology (or value theory) of environmental ethics. At first glance, this endeavor may seem to be of purely academic interest. But it is not. One’s view of what matters morally has a critical bearing on the way in which one will argue in discussions about the ethical aspects of pollution, global warming or the extinction of species. To some extent, it affects the conclusions one will reach. For instance, if one believes that all living things have value in themselves, a normative discussion about the preservation of a forest will not be wholly contingent on what effect preservation (or non-preservation) can be expected to have on human welfare.

The axiological literature contains a great variety of positions, but these fall under three general headings: anthropocentrism, sentientism and ecologism. According to anthropocentrism (or human-centered ethics),8 only humans have intrinsic value.9 This means that humans should not care directly about non-human entities, although they may care if this will further their own interests (e.g. in respect of welfare ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required