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The Relation Between Ethics and Sustainability (Research Paper Sample)


What is our ethical obligation to intervene when "nature is just taking it's course"? When we intervene to allow a population to survive rather than to thrive, are we really helping in the long-term?  Perhaps less controversially, when we help Bangladesh rebuild villages in a flood prone area after a monsoon or Haiti after an earthquake, is that humanitarianism or stupidity?  If resources were infinite, then it would be easy, but they aren't so how might environmental realities help us prioritize and what do ethical obligations have to do with it? 


Ethics and Sustainability
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Ethics and Sustainability
In recent years, the concept of sustainability is one of the most researched and documented topics across the globe. Over, the past half a century, the notion has garnered broad support in society. However, it remains challenging to implement due to the complexities and enormous shifts associated with it. Indeed, there are significant ethical challenges involved in the promotion and achievement of sustainability. Even though ethics is the essence of sustainability, the moral obligations of humanity continue to blur in recent years. Sustainability is grounded on the equal quest of three core objectives; environmental health, social fairness, and economic well-being. The concept is based on the ethical dedication to ensuring the well-being of not only contemporary society but also that of future-generations. However, one may question if the decisions that human beings are making in the name of sustainability are ethically conscious and beneficial to contemporary society. The paper argues that it is vital for humanity to recognize both the advantages and adverse consequences associated with pursuing inter-generational and intra-generational benefits for the environment, the society, and the economy. Indeed, the article prompts contemporary society to recognize and appreciate the in-depth analysis of the ethics of sustainability.
The rationale for the Pursuit of Sustainability
In the past three decades, sustainability has grown to be one of the most common frameworks in influencing a variety of choices in society. The term sustain describes the act of prolonging the productive life of natural wealth with time while ensuring the reliability of their bases as such facilitating their endurance CITATION Kib14 \l 1033 (Kibert, Thiele, Peterson, & Monroe, 2014). Sustainability is as such, the continuous process of attaining improved living conditions for the current society and the future generations in a given natural environment. Essentially, sustainability maintains that in the decision-making process, every community has a responsibility to ensure that both future generations and other societies that are less well-off can achieve a certain standard of living. Implied in the description of sustainability is the notion of the physical confines to the industrious use of natural wealth CITATION Keu16 \l 1033 (Keulartz, 2016). Indeed, there is a close association between the physical limits which creep up the existence of humanity and the concept of sustainability that is linked with the menaces caused by human beings. Therefore, sustainability prompts humankind to recognize the adverse effects of several artificial activities on the environment and as such, take the necessary precautions in efforts of pursuing sustainability.
Indeed, in contemporary society, many communities are applying sustainability to solve energy problems, manage waste, plan urban areas, and develop the economy. Similarly, business organizations are currently using the concept to expand the performance metrics from the traditional view of higher profit margins to including social and environmental performance to economic prowess CITATION Bie11 \l 1033 (Biedenweg, Monroe, & Oxarart, 2011). Educational institutions, particularly institutions of higher learning, are utilizing sustainability to shape curricula, administration, investments, and their relationships with the local community. Undeniably, sustainability is currently acknowledged as a framework that different institutions, both private and public and the society as a whole utilize in decision-making.
Ethics defines what is right and what is evil. The understanding of ethics is vital in understanding the ethical obligations of humankind to the environment and sustainability among other crises that afflict society today CITATION Bie11 \l 1033 (Biedenweg, Monroe, & Oxarart, 2011). Ethics are to no small extent morals that encompass conformation to a particular pre-determined order. Indeed, ethics is a set of moral behavior grounded on various socio-economic and environmental factors consecrated by tradition CITATION Kib14 \l 1033 (Kibert, Thiele, Peterson, & Monroe, 2014). Morals are intrinsically associated with the culture of each society since culture guides what is considered positive and what is considered harmful.
It is essential to acknowledge that culture is the interpretation that humankind has of itself and all its relationships, including humankind's relationship with nature. Throughout time, the society has worked to bring about a new sense of self and that of all of the systems, whether social, economic, or environmental. Ethics extends beyond the significance associated with morals since it emphasizes the appreciation of human conduct which can be recognized as either good or evil in a particular society and they are often absolute CITATION Lot06 \l 1033 (Lotter, 2006). Therefore, ethics is a practical philosophy that seeks to integrate knowledge and action in society.
However, the cultural origin of the ethical values that contemporary society utilizes is often ignored. The ignorance is grounded on the fact that ethical standards, its logic, and moral integrity are the very ways that individuals usually arrive at their thoughts and subsequently, judgments on what is evil or good. The fact that these ethical values guide individuals conduct and behavior, it is unlikely for one to question the origin of ethics CITATION Bie11 \l 1033 (Biedenweg, Monroe, & Oxarart, 2011). Moral standards and by extension, ethics are sanctified by tradition and preserved over time that they are merely perceived as impartial components. Unfortunately, the naturalization of ethics implies that what is considered good or evil is disguised as static, which is not the case. It is necessary to acknowledge that ethics are dynamic since they are grounded in history and culture CITATION Kib14 \l 1033 (Kibert, Thiele, Peterson, & Monroe, 2014). Indeed, though ethics are common to the society that inaugurated it, it deviates with time to keep pace with new social burdens. Therefore, ethics is a normative understanding of human actions since it determines morally mandatory codes of conduct in regards to the environment and life as a whole. The guidelines associated with ethics impose limits on harmful and insensitive behavior.
Ethical Obligation to Intervene against Nature
Ethical dimensions constitute a group of ideals and responsibilities that showcase the content of moral conduct and subsequently vital in the construction of moral behavior in a particular society. However, from an eco-centric view, the ethics in the current society are anti-ethics since the current moral premises are grounded on anthropocentrism and utilitarianism CITATION Pal14 \l 1033 (Palmer, Mcshane, & Sandler, 2014). Indeed, humankind perceives the natural environment not as something to preserve but rather one to dominate. The perception that human beings inhabit the most advantaged place in the creation illustrate that individuals perceive nature as the servant.
The current ethical codes are influenced by anthropocentrism, which showcases that human beings consider themselves superior as such, putting their rights above all other forms. Caught up in the ideology of being excellent, humankind ignores the fact that all different kinds of creation irrespective of their superiority have rights and as such it is ethical to recognize that all creatures have privileges to both a present and a future CITATION Pal14 \l 1033 (Palmer, Mcshane, & Sandler, 2014). Indeed, until quite lately, human beings did not consider the environmental question and merely exploited the environment as a source of goods and fuels for both consumption and production. While in the past few decades, the concept of human ethical obligation to nature has garnered extensive support, it is still evident the current human actions are grounded on the perception that humankind is superior.
Many environmental ethics advocates maintain that what makes an ethical theory environmentally conscious is the commitment that the environment, including species, ecosystems, and biotic communities, are considered moral. This particular argument illustrates that humankind has a moral obligation to get rid of the notion of superiority but rather acknowledge the rights of other beings in nature CITATION Env16 \l 1033 (Environmental Values, 2016). The prevailing perception is that humankind has an obligation towards life that encompasses respecting the integrity, stability, and beauty of the environment. The best way to acknowledge and respect the environmental wholes such as the species, ecosystems, and biotic communities is to let nature take its course. The arguments against human interference with life are categorized into two.
The first, the prima facie principle of noninterference, which illustrates there is a contingent but universal connection between human interference with nature and eco-systemic harm. As mentioned, the definition of sustainability acknowledges the role of social activities that work against the principle of preserving the environment, whether intentionally or non-intentionally. Indeed, the epistemic variant view of the first argument illustrates when faced with the decision of whether to interfere with nature, there will always be a multitude of reasons that pinpoint to the direct adverse consequences of interfering regardless of the specific circumstances CITATION Lot06 \l 1033 (Lotter, 2006). Another argument against the interference of nature is the conceptual association between interfering and...

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