Provides several examples that highlight the inevitableconsequences of exponential growth as related toresource exploitation (e.g. fisheries, rainforests, soils).

EVSP508 Environmental Ethics

Week 8 Lecture Notes
Introduction to
Environmental Ethics
Reiss

This week’s readings focus on the concept of
sustainability and moving forward. The readings in
Chapter 11 are grouped under the heading of the new
green capitalist order: economics, sustainability, and
response

Week 8 Topics
Chapter 11

Essay 66 – Sustainable Development: Economic Myths
and Global Realities – Rees
Essay 67 – At the Shrine of Our Lady Fàtima, or Why
Political Questions Are Not All Economic – Sagoff
Essay 68 – Toward a Just and Sustainable Economic
Order – Cobb, Jr.
Essay 69 – What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know
About Capitalism – Magdoff & Foster
Essay 70 – Is Sustainable Capitalism and Oxymoron? –
Schweickart
Essay 71 – An Ecological Critique of Global Advertising –

66 – Sustainable Development: Economic
Myths and Global Realities (Rees)

Criticizes materialist model of economics
Our cultural “shared illusions,” based on our unconscious
belief, stands directly in the way of sustainable
development
Argues that environmental harmony and sustainable
development will only come about with a fundamental
change in society’s perceptions
Provides several examples that highlight the inevitable
consequences of exponential growth as related to
resource exploitation (e.g. fisheries, rainforests, soils).
Ends by stating “now, of course, I am really staring off to
ecotopia. It simply cannot happen, right? Perhaps, but if
you cannot share this vision, take a long look from where

67 – At the Shrine of Our Lady Fàtima, or Why
Political Questions Are Not All Economic (Sagoff)

Examines relevance of an economic model to
environmental concerns
Rejects standard economic model of cost-benefit
analysis when dealing with environmental concerns
Begins with a vivid description of a communities
“willingness-to-pay” regarding waste sites and human
health
Presents several examples for discussion. For example,
a shift in economic evaluation of costs for environmental
regulations

Executive Order 12,291 (published 2/19/81 by Pres.
Reagan),
Requires cost-benefit analysis for all regulations

68 – Toward a Just and Sustainable
Economic Order (Cobb, Jr.)

Examines the possibility of creating a socially just and
sustainable society
Premise: we must move towards a different economic
system, as today’s system is increasingly unjust and
unsustainable
Focus today is on global growth, which cannot be
sustained; any policy against global growth is considered
“enemy”
As an example, “if a state desires, for environmental
reasons, to enact new restrictive legislation, it is told that
more of its businesses will move away” (p. 682)
In today’s global economic system, the only solution to
the worlds problems is continued or increased economic

69 – What Every Environmentalist Needs to
Know About Capitalism (Magdoff & Foster)

Argue capitalism is corrupt to the core

Offer socialist critique of capitalist economics

“It is capitalism’s ethic, outlook, and frame of mind that
we assimilate and acculturate to as we grow up.
Unconsciously, we learn that greed, exploitation of
laborers, and competition (among people, businesses,
and countries) are not only acceptable but are actually
good for society because they help to make our economy
function “efficiently” (p. 695-696)
Businesses either grow or die; corporations only have
loyalty to their economic bottom lines
Capitalist system is “very crude instrument” in providing
jobs relative to growth

70 – Is Sustainable Capitalism and
Oxymoron? (Schweickart)

Examines the possibility of creating a socially just and
sustainable society
Claims a “sustainable capitalism” is highly unlikely
“We may not be facing the end of the world but still,
Kovel has a point. He may have overstated the case, but
from an ecological point of view there is something, at
least prima facie, crazy about capitalism. An ecological
world-view tends to emphasize harmony, sustainability,
moderation—rather like that of the ancient Greeks, for
whom a constant striving for more was regarded as a
mark of an unbalanced, deranged soul. Yet every
capitalist enterprise is motivated to grow, and to grow
without limit. For reasons of greed and fear” (p. 715)
Too many environmentalists are not “ecological enough”

71 – An Ecological Critique of Global
Advertising (Durning)

Presents an analysis of the global pressures to create
consumerism through marketing
Advertising preys on human weakness, and sells you a
product to be ‘happy’
Proposes question: has advertising outgrown its
“legitimate role in human affairs” (p. 727)
Point of advertising is to manufacture wants in
consumers that would not otherwise exist – to expand
what humans desire
Advertising messages have usurped personal
communication as dominating the words humans hear
and read in their daily lives in the last 100 years
Are there spaces that should be free of advertising? How

72 – The Challenge of the Future: Private Property,
the City, the Globe, and a Sustainable Society
(Pojman)

Presents suggestions for extending ecological
consciousness to the city and to the whole world
Presents court case (Lucas vs South Carolina) as
example of private property conflicts
Urban populations: 1800 – 2% world population; 1900 –
4%; 1950 – 30%; 1975 –

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