Nvironmental Virtue: One Virtue and one Vice

Essay Assignment

At the conclusion of each course section I will distribute a paper topic. You are required to write papers on four of the six course sections. (You may also write on a topic of your choosing. If you decide to do your own topic, you are required to have the topic approved by me.) Your essay is to be typed, single-spaced, with 12 point font and one inch margins. It is to be no longer than two pages. This paper is due by June 11, and should be passed in through the assignment section of blackboard. Papers are expected to be free of grammatical and spelling errors. Be clear and concise. Explain your terms and defend your claims. Your paper will be assessed on how clearly and completely you present the views we studied, how well you defend your assessments of those views, and how well you defend your own views. Below you will find the paper topic for the Environmental Virtue section of the course. If you have any questions about these papers or want to discuss your ideas with me ahead of turning them in, you are welcome to come to my office hours or make an appointment to meet with me. However, I do not read drafts of papers.

Environmental Virtue: One Virtue and One Vice

The formal definition of environmental virtue that we used in class is that an environmental virtue is an excellent (i.e. well justified) character trait that is responsive to some aspect of the natural environment or that is justified (at least in part) by environmental considerations. However, this formal definition does not itself tell us which character traits are environmental virtues and which character traits are environmental vices. To determine that one must evaluate particular character traits in light of environmental goods and values: Are the traits conducive to promoting and protecting environmental values? Do they tend to undermining them? Do they open up benefits for their possessor? Do they close off possible valuable experiences for their possessor? Do they involve responding well to environmental goods and values? Are they insensitive to environmental goods and values? (And so on.) Among the central projects in environmental virtue ethics, then, is identifying which particular character traits are environmental virtues and which particular character traits are environmental vices.
In the course packet there is a list/catalogue of traits that people have claimed to be environmental virtues and vices. The assignment is to identify from that list one character trait that you believe to be a particularly important environmental virtue (my choice: CARE) and explain why you consider it to be particularly significant; and to identify from that list one character trait that you believe to be a particularly important environmental vice (my choice: FEAR) and explain why you consider it to be particularly significant. As discussed in class (and indicated above), character traits are justified as environmental virtues and vices by their relationship to environmental goods and values. Therefore, a crucial aspect of this assignment is showing why the trait you believe to be an environmental virtue is well justified by and disposes its possessor to respond well to environmental goods or values; and why the trait you believe to be an environmental vice is detrimental to or disposes its possessor to respond poorly to environmental goods and values.
As stated above, these papers will be evaluated on how clearly and accurately you present the views we have studied, how well you defend your assessment of those views, and how well you defend your own view. Be sure to clarify your terms when necessary and defend your claims. You should also try to anticipate objections to your arguments and respond to them.

My choice: ENVIRONMENTAL VIRTUE: CARE
ENVIRONMENTAL VICE: FEAR

Some sources: Environmental Virtue Ethics by Cafaro Thoreau, Leopold, and Carson”
EVEby Westra Virtue Ethics as Foundational for a Global Ethic”
EVEby Rolston, 3, Environmental Virtue Ethics: Half the Truth but Dangerous as a Whole”
EVEby Shaw A Virtue Ethics Approach to Aldo Leopolds Land Ethic”