ISBN 978-0745651262
Paperback 280 pages
Publisher: Polity; 2nd edition (August 29, 2011)
Product Dimensions 6 x 1 x 8.6 inches


In this thoroughly revised and updated second edition of the highly successful Ecological Ethics, Patrick Curry shows that a new and truly ecological ethic is both possible and urgently needed. With this distinctive proposition in mind, Curry introduces and discusses all the major concepts needed to understand the full range of ecological ethics.

He discusses light green or anthropocentric ethics with the examples of stewardship, lifeboat ethics, and social ecology; the mid-green or intermediate ethics of animal liberation/rights; and dark or deep green ecocentric ethics. Particular attention is given to the Land Ethic, the Gaia Hypothesis and Deep Ecology and its offshoots: Deep Green Theory, Left Biocentrism and the Earth Manifesto. Ecofeminism is also considered and attention is paid to the close relationship between ecocentrism and virtue ethics. Other chapters discuss green ethics as post-secular, moral pluralism and pragmatism, green citizenship, and human population in the light of ecological ethics. In this new edition, all these have been updated and joined by discussions of climate change, sustainable economies, education, and food from an ecocentric perspective.

This comprehensive and wide-ranging textbook offers a radical but critical introduction to the subject which puts ecocentrism and the critique of anthropocentrism back at the top of the ethical, intellectual and political agenda. It will be of great interest to students and activists, and to a wider public.


“Curry’s Ecological Ethics is an accessible overview to its topic. The eco-crisis section introduces us succinctly to the major ecological problems facing our planet. Curry writes passionately and does a good job explaining more difficult ethical concepts like realism, relativism and anthropocentrism in easy-to-understand language. He presents the different positions on the green-ethics spectrum, aiming to support eco-centrism. Eco-centrism is the view that ecosystems are of paramount value. Humans are a part of ecosystems and so their interests matter too, but they should be balanced with the interests of ecosystems and animals of other species instead of always trumping. Curry connects this view with forms of spirituality and animism (the idea that elements of the natural world are not dead matter but have spirits or minds). He also tries, in the title of one section, “Making it Real,” by discussing how ecocentrism can be put into personal and political practice and how it intersects with the politics of various environmental issues. The books succeeds at being an engaging and wide-ranging introduction to ecological ethics and ecocentrism in particular.
Where the book does not succeed is in convincing anyone who is not an ecocentrist to be one. There is little philosophical argument for this position. The main argument I can see is that we must become ecocentrists if we are going to be sufficiently motivated to sacrifice humans interests at the level that is necessary to stop ecological crises. For Curry, traditional anthropocentric environmentalism (we should not destroy the environment because of how this will affect human beings) isn’t sufficiently motivating. As he says, “the unlikeliness of this degree of enlightened self-interest, on any significant scale, should be virtually self-evident” (62). However, this isn’t an argument for thinking that ecosystems are intrinsically valuable, or, if they are intrinsically value, how this is moral value on par with (or trumping) the interests of moral agents (i.e., humans). Nor does it explain how ecocentrism is to solve its own motivation problem, namely what is to motivate us to become ecocentrists. If solving eco-crises really depends on that, then we are going to need to hear the strongest possible positive arguments for why we should think that way about humans and ecosystems.”
~B. Hamlin, Vine Voice

Ecological Ethics

An Introduction, Updated for 2018

Table of Contents


1 Introduction

  • This Book
  • An Initial Example
  • Looking Ahead
  • Value and Nature
  • Ethics and Grub
  • What’s New?
  • Transparency and Responsibility

2 The Earth in Crisis

  • The Signs
  • Analysing Ecocrisis
  • Science and Technology

3 Ethics

  • What is Ethics?
  • Realism vs. Relativism
  • The Naturalistic Fallacy
  • Religious Ethics
  • Secular Ethics

4 Three Schools of Ethics

  • Deontology (‘Rights’)
  • Consequentialism (‘Effects’)
  • Virtue Ethics
  • A Green Virtue Ethic

5 Value

  • Some Issues
  • Anthropocentrism
  • Ecocentrism

6 Light Green or Shallow (Anthropocentric) Ethics

  • What is a Light Green Ethic?
  • Environmentalism
  • Lifeboat Ethics

7 Mid-Green or Intermediate Ethics

  • Animal Liberation
  • Animal Rights
  • Biocentrism
  • Animals and Us
  • Wild Animals
  • Domestic Animals
  • On (Not) Eating Animals: the Options

8 Dark Green or Deep (Ecocentric) Ethics

  • A Suggested DeÞnition
  • The Land Ethic
  • Gaia Theory
  • Deep Ecology
  • Deep Green Theory
  • Left Biocentrism
  • Ecocentrism and the Left
  • The Earth Manifesto

9 Ecofeminism

10 Deep Green Ethics as Post-Secular

  • Dogmatic Secularism
  • An Ecocentric Spirituality
  • Animism
  • Green Buddhism?

11 Moral Pluralism and Pragmatism

  • The Poverty of Monism
  • The Consequences of Pluralism
  • Multicentrism

12 Green Citizenship and Education

  • Making it Real
  • A Long Revolution?
  • Ecological Education
  • Traditional Ecological Knowledge
  • Ecological Republicanism
  • A Note on Wisdom

13 Grounding Ecological Ethics

  • The Food System
  • On Malthus
  • Climate Change
  • Wind Power and Energy
  • Nuclear Energy
  • Geo-engineering
  • Carbon Trading and Ecosystem Services: the New Gods of the Market
  • Sustainability
  • The Limits to Growth
  • A Left Ecocentric Guide to Capitalism
  • Alternatives
  • Movements in the Right Direction

14 Human Overpopulation

  • The Problem
  • Analysing Overpopulation
  • Taking on the Arguments about Overpopulation
  • Climate Change Again
  • Overpopulation and Ecocentrism

15 Postscript


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