Environmental ethics and its importance


According to Webster, the word “Environment” means “all the physical, social and cultural factors and conditions influencing the existence or development of an organism or assemblage of organisms.

The earth science Glossary stated that “The environment is the sum of all external condition affecting the life, development and survival of all organisms” the PAC glossary (plants, animals and environment) is more inclusive in its definition. It says “the environment is the circumstances or conditions that surround an organism or group of organism as we well as the complex of social or cultural condition that affect an individual or community”. Light from above meaning exploration environment ethics is concerns moral relationship between human and the world around them.

A brief history on ethics

Although philosophy has a long history of theorizing the place of humans in the natural world (Avwoke, 2010). “Ethics is as old as the creation of the universe”. Talking about the first code: The fruit of knowledge of good and evil that prescribe and regulate the activities of mankind and to moderate human behavior. Ethics give an over view as to the judgment of moral principle that control or influence person behavior. Ethics as a subfield of philosophy did not really get it start until the early 1970s partly as a result of glowing environment consciousness and social movement of the 1960s. Public interest increased in question about human’s moral relationship with the rest of the natural world. In the field of philosophy number of theorist of that time come to believe that traditional ethics theories were unable to provide an adequate account of the relationship. Thus the motivation for the earliest work in environmental ethics then was a desire to formulate ethics theories that did a better job of accounting for our moral obligation even to the non human natural world.

Definition of environmental ethics

Environmental ethics is a new sub-discipline of philosophy that deals with the ethics problems surrounding environment protection. It aims to provide ethics justification and more motivation for the cause of global environmental protection.

There are several distinctive features of environmental ethics that desire our alternation. First, environmental ethics is extended traditional ethics mainly concerns intra-human duties especially duties among contemporaries. Environmental ethics extends the scope of ethical concerns beyond ones community and nature to include not only the people everywhere but also animal and the whole of nature – the biosphere both now and beyond the imminent future to include future generation.

Second, environmental ethics is inter-disciplinary. These are many overlapping concerns and area of concerns among environmental policies, environmental economics, and environmental science and so on. The distinctive perspective of discipline provides important inspiration for environmental ethics and the hater offers value foundation for these disciplines. Third, environmental ethics is plural from the moment it was born, environmental ethics has been area in which different ideas and perspective compete with each other. Anthropocentrism, animal liberation/right theory and a host of others all provide unique and in some sense, reasonable ethical justification for environmental protection. The basic ideas of the environmental ethics also find support from and ere embodied in various well establish cultural tradition.

Fourth, environmental ethics is global ecology crisis is a global issue. Environmental pollution does note respect natural boundaries. No country can deal with the alone. All of the above seem to make us see that environmental ethics is a fullest extension of human ethics. It calls on us to think and act locally as well as globally. It calls for more new deeper moral consciousness.

Schools of thought in environmental ethics

In modern society environmental ethics comprises four school of the thought enlightened

  • Anthronpocentrism
  • Animals hibernation/right theory
  • Biocentrism
  • Ococentrism (which includes the land ethics, deep ecology and the theory of natures values)

Biocentrism maintain that all life form are moral patient entities to which we should unite moral consideration. We therefore have duty towards all forms of life. According to Schweitzer (1923), the essence of goodness is to maintain and cherish life, and the essence of evil is to destroy and damage life. All hung being have the will to live, and all living beings with the will to live are sacred, inter-related and equal values. It is therefore an ethical imperative for us to respect and help all life forms.

Process of decision making regarding environment ethics

There are many debates about philosophical foundation of environmental ethics, we can also find much consensus at normative and practical level among environmental ethics (Yang, 2000).

Three standard principles of environmental ethics: (Principles of Environmental justice) Environmental justice is the minimum ethical stance of environmental ethics there are two dimensions of environmental justice;

Distribution environmental justice which concern the equal distributor of environmental benefit and burden, whereas participatory environmental justice focuses on opportunities to participate in decision making. While domestic environmental justice is easily under stood and accepted the establishment of the global (international) environmental justice remain a challenge to global society.

Principle of inter-generational equality

This principle talk about the extension of that equality right constitutes the core of principle of equality. The right to life liberty and happiness as basic human right shared by everyone, future generation as well as the present generation. Every generation should leave the following generation an equal opportunity to live a happy life. Thus it is the duty of every generation to leave to their descendants not only a Fust politico-economic system, but also a health and generation earth.

Principle of respect for nature

Though they may come from different perspective, environmental ethics agree that we have a duty to conserve and protect the integrity of the ecosystem and it bio-diversity. No one doubts that the prosperity of human being depends on the prosperity of nature and human economy is the sub-system of natural economy. The former must fit into the later and abide by the laws of the later. Earth is the planet that is our homes. This home planet is in crisis now. We must carry out our duty therefore to care for it.

Importance of environmental ethics

The plan here is that human, inhabitant and their world, earth live, organism and how environmental ethics are important to them.

  1. Human

Human are helped or hurt by the condition of their environment. Hold that an action is right that produces the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Ethics arises to protect various goods within our culture, the historically has been its principal area. As philosophers frequently model this ethics is a feature of the human.

  1. Inhabitant and their world

Inhabitant need to be healthy, health however, is not simply a matter of biology from the skin in. environmental health ethics from the skin out is equally important more than desire quality or natural given-air, soil, water functioning eco-system, hydrologic cycle and so on.

  1. Live

Live do not have duties or rocks air, ocean, dirt or earth; we have duties to people or sentient things. Ethics provides guideline to identifying common practices to be followed and those to be rejected which has produces and continues to support all the earth bound value.

  1. Organism: Respect for life

Ethics is for people, but is ethics only about people? For classics ethics biountric ethics asks us about the appropriate respect towards all living things which includes (Wildlife and farm, animal butterflies, sequoia trees etc) as earlier method above, to cope with the global environment crisis human beings must reach some value consensus and co-operate with each other at the personal, national, regional multinational and at all levels.

Global environmental protection depends on global governance. An environmental ethics is therefore typically a global ethics with a global perspective


In conclusion, environmental health ethics and its importance cannot be complete without an ethical theory in relation to philosophy is a search for a general understanding of values and reality by mainly speculating rather than observational means. In other words, it is logic. Philosophy prescribed code of conduct for professionals and served as guide to health workers life.


Avwoke, P. (2016). Concept and approach to environmental health ethics and privileges of public health practices. Ughelli: Fulfilling Destiny.

Hardin, G. (2008). The tragedy of the commons. Science. 162 (59), 127–8.

Leopold, A. (2009). The land ethic. New York: Sand County

Marshall, A. (2013). Ethics and the extraterrestrial environment. Journal of Applied Philosophy, 10(2), 227-236.

Mautner, M. N. (2009). Life-centered ethics, and the human future in space. Bioethics, 23, 433–440

Mautner, M. N. (2012). Seeding the universe with life: securing our cosmological future.  Washington D. C.: Legacy Books.

Muir, J. (2008). From A thousand-mile walk to the Gulf. New York: Library of America.

Peter, V. & Grosch, P. (2011). The puzzle of ethics. New York: Harper Collins

Singer, P. (2011). Practical ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press .

White, L. (2007). The historical roots of our ecologic crisis. Science, 15 (7), 123–127.

William, C. (2015). Uncommon ground: Rethinking the human place in nature. New York: W. W. Norton & Co.

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