With Laura Sizer

Most ethical debates concern moral obligations towards human beings. But what moral obligations – if any – do we have towards non-human entities? Do non-human animals have rights? Do trees and rivers? What about entire ecosystems? What might be the basis for such rights and obligations? We will discuss how traditional ethical theories have approached questions about moral obligations towards non-humans, and see whether these views can be extended to include some or all of the non-human natural entities mentioned above. We will also discuss other approaches that explicitly include natural entities such as ecosystems within the sphere of moral concern. We will also discuss the moral dimensions of climate change and sustainability practices. Students will read and critically analyze philosophical positions and will learn to articulate arguments on several different sides of the issues. Short and longer argument papers are required. Prerequisite: A prior college course in either philosophy or environmental studies.

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