A Deontological Approach On Issues Surrounding The Environment

2297 Words Nov 21st, 2016 10 Pages
A Deontological Approach to Issues Surrounding the Environment Quite often when discussing issues surrounding the environment, it is easy to look at the problems as a matter of cause and effect. X amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere over Y number of years will lead to Z feet of sea level rise. Consider for a moment then, what happens if an individual foregoes the notion of effect and simply examines if humans have a duty to protect the environment, regardless of consequence? The answer—in taking a deontological approach to the environment, it is clear that the environment has intrinsic value and in examining the work of three notable deontologists, it is apparent that it is the duty of the moral agent to take no harmful actions against environment, rather, one ought to do everything within their power to preserve it.
Philosopher Immanuel Kant writes in the Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become universal law” (30). Were an individual to universalize the maxim “harm the environment,” then the law itself would become contradictory. To bring harm to the environment—to deforest, to pollute—would mean that there would be no people around to bring harm to the environment in the first place. Were everyone to pump carbon into the air, then the air would be unbreathable and if a person cannot breathe then they cannot pump carbon into the air. To destroy the environment would mean…

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