Doing Environmental Ethics

Robert Traer

Second Edition • July 1, 2012 • 400 pages

Print ISBN: 9780813347417 • $42.00 USD$54.50 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780813347424 • $25.99 USD$25.99 CAN


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Doing Environmental Ethics faces our ecological crisis by drawing on environmental science, economic theory, international law, and religious teachings, as well as philosophical arguments. It engages students in constructing ethical presumptions based on arguments for duty, character, relationships, and rights, and then tests these moral presumptions by predicting the likely consequences of acting on them. Students apply what they learn to policy issues discussed in the final part of the book: sustainable consumption, environmental policy, clean air and water, agriculture, managing public lands, urban ecology, and climate change. Questions after each chapter and a worksheet aid readers in deciding how to live more responsibly.

The second edition has been updated to reflect the latest developments in environmental ethics, including sustainable practices of corporations, environmental NGO actions, and rainforest certification programs. This edition also gives greater emphasis to environmental justice, Rawls, and ecofeminism. Revised study questions concern application and analysis, and new “Decisions” inserts invite students to analyze evaluate current environmental issues.

Robert Traer holds a Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, a J.D. from the School of Law of the University of California at Davis, and a D.Min. from the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. He is a faculty member of the Dominican University of California. With Harlan Stelmach, he is coauthor of Doing Ethics in a Diverse World (Westview Press).

Part One: Ethics and Science
1. Moral Philosophy: An Adventure in Reasoning
2. Ethics and Science: Moral Consideration
3. Ethics and Economics: The Common Good

Part Two: Constructing and Testing Ethical Presumptions
4. Duty: Nature and Future Generations
5. Character: Ecological Virtues
6. Relationships: Empathy and Integrity
7. Rights: Humans and Animals?
8. Consequences: Predicting the Future


Part Three: Learning from Nature
9. Ecological Living: Sustainable Consumption
10. Environmental Policy: Governments, Corporations, NGOs
11. Air and Water: A Healthy Environment
12. Agriculture: Land and Life
13. Managing Public Land: Adaptive Management
14. Urban Ecology: Building Green
15. Climate Change: Global Warming

“In this well-done, three-part work, Traer offers a solid introduction to environmental ethics. … Traer presents opposing views fairly, and is good at explaining/applying concepts. Recommended.”

“In the hands of Traer ‘environmental ethics’ become the critical search for wisdom for individuals and for society in dealing with the greatest crisis in human history. It includes, and draws from, the whole range of formal ethical systems, but it also treats specific environmental problems such as global warming. It shows how these cannot be separated from economic and political theory and practice. And it does all this in relation to our actual historical situation and cultural diversity. This is ‘ethics’ at its transdisciplinary best.”
—John B. Cobb, Jr., Claremont School of Theology

Doing Environmental Ethics stands out among the many available textbooks on the topic because of its clarity and inclusiveness. Most such books show clearly the bias or chosen position of the editor/author, and exclude much important material for that reason. In contrast Traer shows his thorough philosophical background and his strong understanding of morality in the variety of sources he uses, far beyond the usual material found in environmental ethics textbooks. I would recommend it as the first choice for any course on environmental issues.”
—Laura Westra, University of Windsor

“In this scholarly, extensively documented volume, Traer brings the discipline of ethics to our current environmental crisis. … Traer manages a unique blend of the philosophical with the pragmatic, ending with a discussion of 15 strategies using existing technology that would prevent a global warming disaster within 50 years.”

“Traer provides not only an unusually coherent and laudable plan for canvassing the field of environmental ethics, but also takes a stance that … promises rich rewards for thinking critically about responsible earth citizenship. Facts and figures cited are up to date and telling. The science underpinning environmental protection is well presented and easy to understand.”
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