Review Of "A Morally Deep World: An Essay On Moral Signifance And Environmental Ethics" By L. E. Johnson

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Johnson defends a “deep” environmental ethic: everything capable of interests shares the same “moral universe”; since species, ecosystems, and the entire biosphere have interests as well as all living things, all share the same moral universe. Lives and systems must therefore be valued in proportion to the interests inherent within them. Not only does Johnson attack a leading critic, R.G. Frey (Interests and Rights: The Case Against Animals, CH, Nov'80), he distances himself from other well-known defenders of environmental ethics, such as Robin Attfield (The Ethics of Environmental Concern, CH, Jun'84), Peter Singer (Animal Liberation, 2nd ed., 1991; 1st ed., CH, May'76), and Tom Regan (All That Dwell Therein: Essays on Animal Rights and Environmental Ethics, CH, Nov'82). Readers may ask how Johnson determines proportionality of interests to avoid the charge he levels against others of drawing arbitrary distinctions. They may also grant that we can speak of plants having needs, but suggest that to ascribe interests to systems appears to be on a par with speaking about a tractor having interests, which Johnson rejects, for the good reason that it is only an elliptical way of referring to what we wish for it to meet our interests. This clearly written book is best read in conjunction with others of the genre. Recommended for four-year colleges and universities.


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