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Environmental Values

Can Environmental Ethics 'Solve' Environmental Problems and Save the World? Yes, but First We Must Recognise the Essential Normative Nature of Environmental Problems

Joel J. Kassiola

Environmental Values 12(2003): 489-514. doi: 10.3197/096327103129341423

What is the nature of environmental problems? This article attempts to illuminate this question by exploring the relationship between environmental ethics, environmental problems and their solution. It does this by examining and criticising the argument contained in a recent issue of Environmental Values asserting that environmental ethics does not have a role to play in solving environmental problems. The major point made in this rebuttal article is that environmental problems are essentially normative in nature. Therefore, normative discourse, and environmental ethics in particular, do have a crucial role to play in environmental thought and action. The discussion concludes with the judgment that a failure to recognise this essential contribution of normative discourse to environmentalism by committing to a conservative empirical reductionism of environmental problems is detrimental to the necessary ethical and social change required to save the world.


KEYWORDS: Environmental problems, normative discourse, ethical change, social change

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

The Ethicist Conception of Environmental Problems Barnabas Dickson


This article is available online (PDF format) from Ingenta Journals. Access is free if your institution subscribes to Environmental Values. Reprints of this article can be ordered from ingenta or the British Library

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