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# One of the most important tasks of ethical analysis is to deliver us f

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One of the most important tasks of ethical analysis is to deliver us f  [#permalink]

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23 Oct 2018, 07:15
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One of the most important tasks of ethical analysis is to deliver us from our unrecognized prejudices about right and wrong. For ethicist Paul Taylor perhaps no prejudice is so deeply ingrained as speciesism, the view that members of the human species deserve treatment superior to that accorded members of other species.

In place of speciesism, Taylor proposes a new theory of environmental ethics based on ―the biocentric outlook.‖ This outlook asserts that humans are equal members of the earth‘s community of life and that they and members of other species are interdependent. It further sees all organisms as teleological centres of life in the sense that each is a unique individual pursuing its own best interests by its own means and that ―humans are not inherently superior to other living things.‖

Taylor claims that the theory provides the foundation and justification for ―respect for nature,‖ the only moral attitude suitable to have towards earth‘s creatures. Respect for nature requires both recognizing that wild plants and animals have inherent worth, and following the moral norm that ―living things ought not to be harmed or interfered with in nature.‖ Taylor claims that human behaviour toward nonhumans ought to be guided by the rules of non-maleficence and non-interference, as well the rule of fidelity and the rule of restitutive justice. These rules prohibit, respectively: harming any entity in the natural environment; restricting the freedom of natural entities or ecosystems so that they cannot exist in a wild state; mistreating any wild animal, as often occurs during hunting or fishing; and failing to make amends when one wrongs a wild plant or animal in any way.

One problem is with Taylor‘s scheme that both accords ―inherent worth‖ to all plants, animals, and humans, and then requires compensation for every intrusion, use, or control (done even for a good
reason) affecting any living entity. If everyone has duties of compensation to virtually every other living entity, as indeed we must under Taylor‘s scheme, then applying Taylor‘s ethics is complex, cumbersome, and unworkable.

Taylor claims repeatedly that ―all wild living things in the Earth‘s natural ecosystems‖ possess inherent worth. Yet he admits that there are very few wild things in genuinely natural ecosystems—ecosystems wholly free from any human intrusion. This raises at least two problems. First, why does Taylor claim that we have duties only to wild living things in natural ecosystems? If we have only these duties, and if most living things are not wild and not in natural ecosystems, then Taylor may fail to deal with the bulk of problems arising in environmental ethics. Also, if natural ecosystems are those that have experienced no human intrusion or control, then Taylor seems to say that humans are not part of the ―natural‖ world. This contradicts Taylor‘s claim that humans are members of earth‘s community ―in the same sense‖ as plants and animals.

Taylor does deserve praise because he avoids many of the errors of earlier theorists of environmental ethics. For example, Taylor explicitlyrejects Leopold‘s highly questionable belief that inanimate objects can be moral subjects; he also disavows an organicist or Gaia view of environmental ethics, as pursued by Leopold, Goodpaster, Lovelock, and others, and shows why organicism errs in giving no place to the good of individual organisms.
1. Which of the following statements reflects one of the author‘s criticisms of Taylor‘s theory?
A. The theory denies the claim that humans have moral responsibilities to inanimate objects.
B. The theory fails to take into account the superiority of humans to other species.
C. The theory is overly concerned with the welfare of individual organisms.
D. The theory is not comprehensive enough to deal with many ethical issues.
E. The theory is strongly biased towards one particular group

2. According to the passage, which of the following behaviours is most likely to be exhibited by people who practice speciesism?
A. They take their family to see the wild tigers and elephants in the zoo.
B. Their diet consists mainly of fruits and vegetables rather than meat and fish.
C. They plant a new tree for every one that they cut down for their own use.
D. They almost always live in rural areas where farming is necessary for survival.
E. They forbid pets from entering community parks

3. Suppose that one is hiking in the Sierra Nevadas outside of Yosemite and is suddenly attacked by a mountain lion. One could save oneself from the attack, but only by seriously injuring or killing the mountain lion. According to Taylor‘s ethical scheme, what should one do?
A. One should kill the mountain lion in order to save oneself.
B. One should not kill the mountain lion and thereby sacrifice oneself.
C. One should attempt to seriously injure but not kill the mountain lion in order to save oneself.
D. Taylor‘s scheme does not give a clear answer about what to do in this case.
E. One should avoid hiking in the Sierra Nevada region

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Senior Manager
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Re: One of the most important tasks of ethical analysis is to deliver us f  [#permalink]

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23 Oct 2018, 07:16

Topic and Scope

- The author reviews Paul Taylor‘s "biocentric" theory of
environmental ethics and discusses drawbacks to the theory.

Mapping the Passage:

¶1 introduces Taylor's disdain for the "prejudiced" theory speciesism.
¶2 describes Taylor's theory, with a "biocentric outlook."
¶3 gives details of the theory and its 4 rules.
¶4 describes a problem with Taylor‘s idea of compensation.
¶5 describes two problems with applying Taylor's ideas.
¶6 praises Taylor‘s advances over earlier theorists.
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Senior Manager
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Re: One of the most important tasks of ethical analysis is to deliver us f  [#permalink]

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23 Oct 2018, 07:18

1)

The question basically asks you to find a paraphrase of one of the author‘s two criticisms. Quickly review them: it‘s impractical, and it doesn‘t go far enough (¶s 4 and 5). (D) fits the latter.
(A): Faulty Use of Detail. Taylor does "reject [the] ... belief that inanimate objects can be moral subjects", but the author approves of this rejection.
(B): Opposite. The author doesn't dispute Taylor's claim that humans shouldn‘t be considered superior.
(C): Opposite. The author likes this part of Taylor‘s theory (final sentence of the passage).
(E): Out of scope.

2)

A difficult question to predict. We‘re looking for a sort of person or action that would violate Taylor‘s principles by practicing the theory he rejects. A scan of the answer choices shows only one instance where animals are clearly being exploited:
(A) has what you need.
(B): Out of Scope. While Taylor might argue that harm is being caused to the fruits and vegetables, there‘s no evidence they‘re being eaten for reasons of speciesism.
(C): Opposite. This would seem to fit Taylor‘s idea that harm should be accompanied by compensation.
(D): Out of Scope. No hint of speciesism here(E): Out of Scope. No hint of speciesism here

3)

An application question; try to apply the new situation to Taylor‘s principles. Taylor argues that species shouldn‘t be hurt simply because one considers humans superior to other species, but never addresses anything that could touch on selfdefense.
(D) reflects the idea that this situation is outside of Taylor‘s scope.
(A): Out of Scope. Taylor offers no suggestion that this is the best option.
(B): Out of Scope. Taylor never suggests that humans should sacrifice themselves for nature.
(C): Opposite. More tempting than the other choices because it saves the individual species, but there‘s nothing to go on in Taylor's rules one way or the other.
(E): Out of scope.

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Re: One of the most important tasks of ethical analysis is to deliver us f &nbs [#permalink] 23 Oct 2018, 07:18
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