Chapter 14 Essay Questions
1. Explain and discuss the various arguments for the conclusion that the natural environment is intrinsically valuable. Do you think any of them succeeds? Do you agree with their conclusion? Defend your answers.
2. What obligations do you think we have to protect the (non-human) environment, and why? Do we have obligations involving just other living things or also the natural environment? Do these obligations come from our own interests or from the intrinsic moral importance of the environment? Defend your answers.
3. Many people believe that humans are superior to nonhuman animals because we possess the traits of rationality and autonomy, whereas other animals do not. How does Taylor respond to such views? Do you find his response convincing? Why or why not?
4. Why does Hill think it is difficult to explain what is wrong with destroying the environment in terms of rights and welfare? What alternative framework does he propose for looking at the issue? Why does he think this framework will be useful when standard ethical theories fail? Do you find his approach convincing? Defend your answers.
5. In what ways does Hill suggest that those who fail to respect natural environments are falling short of ideals of human excellence? Raise what you think is the most serious objection to his view. Is your objection successful? Why or why not?
6. Explain Posner and Sunstein’s asteroid example. How is it similar to climate change? How is it different? Ultimately, what do Posner and Sunstein intend it to show? Do you agree with their assessment?
7. Explain and discuss Sinnott-Armstrong’s claim that individual actions, such as driving unnecessarily, are not morally wrong. Why does he think this? Do you agree with his reasoning? Why or why not?
8. Sinnott-Armstrong argues that individuals do have moral obligations to help fight climate change but that these obligations are restricted to influencing governments to change their environmental policies. Why does he think our obligations are restricted in this way? Do you agree with him? Why or why not?