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PHI 236 Week 4 Lecture Notes

by: Haley J Schuhl

PHI 236 Week 4 Lecture Notes PHI 236

Marketplace > Illinois State University > PHIL-Philosophy > PHI 236 > PHI 236 Week 4 Lecture Notes
Haley J Schuhl
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About this Document

Talking mainly about Varner, Taylor, Sober readings. Includes class discussion notes.
Values and the Environment
Todd Stewart, Ph.D
Class Notes
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Haley J Schuhl on Monday February 8, 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 19 views. For similar materials see Values and the Environment in PHIL-Philosophy at Illinois State University.


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Date Created: 02/08/16
Week 4 Lecture Notes  Tuesday 2/2/16  Talking about Varner and Taylor  ● He wants to defend biocentric individualistic: all and only individual organisms  (not just animals) matter  ● Holistic entities only matter instrumentally   ● Biocentric → if an individual has biological needs, then it has moral standing   ○ Mental stat theory is incorrect (a cat may desire to go outside but we know  it has an interest in staying inside in order to keep it safe)  ○ Intuitions about which type of world is better (a beautiful one, flourishing  with plants vs a ball of rock) → this “argument” isn’t a very strong one, it’s  kind of a personal opinion   ● He does not think that all interests matter equally and, therefore, not all  organisms matter equally  ● Species inegalitarianism (Varner’s view): the interests of some species are more  important than those of other species; a plant matters, but a squirrel matters  more than the plant, and humans matter more than both  ○ Ground project (categorical) desires: big picture desires that help structure  the rest of our lives → becoming a doctor (there’s a lot of steps you have  to take to achieve this), being a good parent (impacts a large part of your  life for many years), winning a gold medal   ○ Non­ground project (non­categorical) desires: desires that aren’t life  structuring → desire to buy some milk, reading a book, having lunch,  scratching your back  ○ Biological needs: needs like caloric intake, water, vitamins, and minerals  ○ He prioritizes ground projects over all else. They are hierarchically  structured since completing their biological needs, as well as years of  non­ground project desire satisfaction to take the steps to achieve a group  project.   ○ People interpret other animals though, we contemplate what it means to  be a human where as other animals probably don't  ○  Moral importance: ground project > non­ground project > biological need  ● Species egalitarianism (Taylor’s view): members of all species have the same  moral importance  ● Notice, Taylor and Varner are both individualists   ● Varner argument   (1) The satisfaction of ground project desires is of high moral importance  (2) In order to fulfill current and future ground projects desires, we need an  environment which is stable and protects biodiversity   (3) Conclusion: so, it is morally important to protect stable ecosystems   ● This conflicts with the goat island issue. An island has been overrun with goats,  and people want to kill them to protect 3 species of plants that don’t grow  anywhere else  ● There’s a movement to kill all the eucalyptus trees in California (they’re been  imported from Australia) since they poison the soil around them. People are  worried that they are an invasive species and might damage the ecosystems   ● It’s not obvious that what is best for people involves protecting biodiversity   Taylor: Species Egalitarian   ● He argues that we are one species among others. The survival of species is  highly dependent on many other species (very interconnected). He says you  can’t prove​ egalitarianism, but it fits in with doctrines.   ● Why is it more important to satisfy a ground project than a biological interest.   ● Taylor’s perspective argument:  (1) Suppose that trait T1 is good from the perspective of an organism with the  lifestyle L1  (2) In contrast, suppose that trait T2 is good from the perspective of an organism  with lifestyle L2   (3) There is no non­speciesist reason to prefer the perspective of L1 to L2, and  hence to think that T1 is of more value than T2; both are equally reasonable  taken on their own  (4) Conclusion: so, T1 and T2 should be treated as equally valuable traits. We  cannot rate types of organisms in a hierarchy because of their differences in  traits, and we should endorse species egalitarianism.   ● This would mean that all organisms are equally important   Thursday 2/4/16  ● Talking about Taylor’s perspective argument   ○ There’s no reason to favor destructive species over benign ones,  parasites over others, invasive species.   ○ This theory doesn’t fit what environmentalists want, but environmental  philosophy isn’t meant to fit the desires of environmentalists.  ● Objection to biological individualism  (1) Holistic entities have moral standing (Sagoff) → under biological  individualism, killing one elephant would be just as bad as killing the  world’s last elephant   (2) Pluralism: individual organisms matter and holistic entities matter   (3) There are examples from Rolston (goat vs plants example) that challenge  the individualist   (4) Why do only biological needs matter? What about psychological needs?  ● Objections to species inegalitarianism (Varner)  (1) Moral equality is an appealing ideal   (2) Ranking is always biased  ● Objections to species egalitarianism (Taylor)  (1) Pest species (things like tape worms, mosquitoes carry many diseases)  (2) Worse to kill a chimp than a carrot? It seems obvious that one is more  important than the other. We might have a duty to prevent suffering. Your  mother and a stranger have equal moral standing, but maybe you have  special obligation to your mother.  (3) We​ are the ones deciding how to live; why shouldn’t we rely on a human  value perspective?   ● Ecosystem “health”  ○ There are analogies between the health of one’s body and the health of an  ecosystem  ○ Two opinions  ■ Healthy ecosystems have a lot of biodiversity   ■ Healthy ecosystems have stability/self­regulation  ○ Ecosystems with the most biodiversity tend to be pretty unstable   ○ Stressed ecosystems, where many organisms are fighting it out on who’s  going to occupy that niche, tend to be the most diverse   ○ Having a dominant and recessive trait is generally the strongest genetic  make­up (heterozygotic)   ● Talking about Sober’s article  ○ If we are ok with letting one species go extinct, then there’s slippery  slope​ to let a lot die off.   ○ Ignorance argument for protecting biodiversity  (1) Species S might have some value of which we are currently  ignorant (holds the cure to cancer, plays some fundamental role in  the ecosystem, might later become an important food source)   (2) If species S might have some value, then we ought to preserve S  (better safe than sorry)   (3) Conclusion: so we ought to preserve S   ● It’s not clear where we stop extending our ignorance   ○ No wild/domestic/invasive/native distinction   ○ What about the unknown bad effects of preserving species S  ○ We also have to rate probabilities   ■ Example of flying on an airplane with small probability of crashing,  but a much slower form of transport might be safer. You have to  weigh your options.   ■ Instead of preserving a piece of land, we could build a playground  or numerous other things. What gains could we achieve?   ○ Most species aren’t vital  ○ Do your ecological homework!   


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