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Course Description And Objective

This course is an introduction to the philosophical study, and moral assessment, of modern human interaction with other species and the environment in which we live. We will begin with a brief introduction to the nature of morality and moral theory, then we will move to in-depth investigations of some of the main topics in contemporary environmental ethics.


  • Morality, Moral Theory, and Moral Reasoning
  • The Historical and Cultural basis of the current Environmental Situation
  • Animal Rights
  • Does Nature have Intrinsic Value?
  • Anthropocentric vs. Non-Anthropocentric Environmental Ethics
  • Preservation of Species, Nature, and Natural Objects
  • Non-Western Perspectives on Environmental Ethics
  • Obligations to Future Generations
  • Population: General Considerations
  • Population and World Hunger
  • Economics, Ethics, and the Environment

Our main goal in the course is to develop a deeper understanding of the ethical issues that arise in environmental contexts. To achieve this, however, we need to spend quite a bit of time developing understanding of several key concepts. For instance, the issue of whether non-human animals have moral rights or moral standing requires understanding what it means to say that something has moral standing. Further, to answer the question 'Does Nature have Intrinsic Value?', we need to have a clear understanding of both the concept of "nature" and the concept of "intrinsic value". It is because of the requirement to deal with these conceptual and theoretical issues that some prefer to label courses like this one "Environmental Philosophy" rather than "Environmental Ethics". In short, this is not simply an applied ethics course (though likely no applied ethics courses are).

By the end of this course, your skills of reasoning about these issues in environmental ethics should be enhanced. What this enables is clear assessment of the various positions taken on these issues, and an enhanced ability to evaluate (as objectively as possible) positions taken by various groups. As is often apparent, there is not always a clear path to resolution of disputes. However, many of these issues are not as 'tangled' or insoluble as many think. In most cases, significant progress has been made in reaching clearer understanding of what is at issue.


Louis P. Pojman. Environmental Ethics: Readings in Theory and Application 5th Edition. Belmont, CA.: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 2008.

Course Evaluation

  • Two short essays
  • Research Project
  • Mid-term test
  • Final test
Copyright 2007, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource. administrator. (2007, March 01). Syllabus. Retrieved November 26, 2014, from Capilano University Open Course Ware Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Creative Commons License