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PHI 236 Week 1 Notes

by: Haley J Schuhl

PHI 236 Week 1 Notes PHI 236

Haley J Schuhl
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About this Document

Week one includes and introduction to the class along with some information about our textbook.
Values and the Environment
Todd Stewart, Ph.D
Class Notes




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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Haley J Schuhl on Sunday January 17, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PHI 236 at Illinois State University taught by Todd Stewart, Ph.D in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 56 views. For similar materials see Values and the Environment in PHIL-Philosophy at Illinois State University.

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Date Created: 01/17/16
*Office hours: Stevenson 343  Tues 12:15­1pm  Wed 3­5pm  Thurs 1­2pm  *Textbook located in stevenson 412    Tuesday 1/12/16    ● Historically, the only thing that matters is people (bad environments affect people)  ● Doesn’t care about citations, APA or MLA is fine  ● Complete readings before coming to class (due the date that is on the schedule)  ● philosophy: love of wisdom. Philo → lover of  ● Wisdom is different than knowledge, part of it involves being able to apply it, has some  type of practical ability, what matters vs what doesn’t   ● Sophists: intellectual prostitutes, didn’t care if what they were saying was true,  professional bullshitters, philosophers are more interested in rational persuasion, value  reasoned opinions   ● Standard form   ○ Premise 1,2 3, … ← evidence or reasons that support the conclusion  ○ conclusion of the argument   ● Criticisms of an argument  ○ One or more of the premises are false or deeply implausible   ○ Even if all the premises are true, the do not adequately support the conclusion  ● Often, one of the best ways to prove an argument to be false would be to seek a  counter­example    Thursday 1/14/16    ● The last person alive argument: There are no mammals left, and you come across the  last redwood tree. Would it be immoral to chop it down? Nobody would notice or be  negatively affected by it (there’s no other living beings that would be able to hold you  responsible). But why kill off this rare species if you don’t need to? You would be  permanently altering an ecosystem.  ○ What about the Grand Canyon? Let’s say you could blow it up; you wouldn’t be  killing anything since it’s basically all rock. Would it be wrong to destroy it?  ● Maybe only sentient beings matter? Or even further… maybe only people matter?  ● In one sense, everything is natural. It’s natural for ants to displace dirt to make colonies  so isn’t it just as natural for us to build cities?    ● Two types of value:  ○ Instrumental value → useful to attain something else (a hammer is very useful in  order to build things but in itself, it’s not very valuable, money is instrumentally  valuable since you want it for what you can exchange it for)   ○ Intrinsic value → value in itself, there are different types, there is a reason to care  about it (not to say that someone necessarily cares)  ■ Moral (says it matters morally, not because of anyone’s use of it, the  object deserves respects, the object has moral rights)   ■ Aesthetic   ■ Economic (satisfies human needs)  ■ Symbolic   ■ Heirloom  ○ Would the last redwood have any intrinsic value? If so, what kind?   ● Perhaps it’s not individual entities that matter but entire species or ecosystems that  matter.  ● Environmental debates spring up a lot more frequently in 1950s than before that (though  there were debates about it prior to this)  ● The earth is is roughly 4­5 billion years old, and the earth is about 8 billion years old. The  first life forms have been around for about 3.5 billions years. Photosynthesis started  relatively shortly after that. 0.65 billion years ago was the first multicellular beings. 250  million years ago was the first mass extinctions (99% of life forms died). 5 millions years  ago after that started the age of the dinosaurs. 150 million years ago the supercontinent  breaks up. 65 million years ago, another mass extinction (killed off dinosaurs and made  room for mammals). 3.5 million years ago, first human­like beings. 10,000 years ago  starts recorded history.   ○ It’s predicted that all life on earth will end in about 500 million years from now (the  sun will be hot enough to boil the oceans)   ● Leopold reading  ○ Suggests that we need a land ethic. Right actions will preserve the integrity,  stability, and beauty of the biotic community (ecosystems).  ○ “The land” refers not only to the soil, but also includes the biotic pyramid which  uses that land to sustain itself. That means we would include the sun.   ○ Pyramid (bottom to top): sun, soil, and water; plants; insects; small­medium  mammals, snakes, fish, etc; apex predators (great white shark, grizzly bears,  cheetahs, all things that have very little things eating them and eat many things  below them)  ○ Apex predators play a huge part in controlling the populations of things below  them in the pyramid   ○ Instead of thinking about a food chain, it’s better to see it as a web, because no  matter where you tug on the web, it will affect all other parts Massive ​ interconnection.   ○ Widening the ethical sphere outward. Example: in ancient Greece, wealthy  landowners were the only people who matter, the rest were slaves and seen as  property. Next all landowners, then all people regardless of race and gender, and  recently we have made great strides in making sure LGBT people are counted  fully. All people matter, but Leopold suggests that we widen it once more to the  land.  ○ Ethics is always evolving and changing. As we encounter new problems, with  create ethical systems to help us cope with the problems, so ethics is a type of  technology.  


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