By Riva Tropp

EthicsRecently, we had the honor of hosting our own esteemed philosophy teacher, Professor Leventer, to talk to us about environmental ethics. Referencing the recent Washington mudslide and West Virginia’s poisoned waters, we discussed the challenges of enacting environmental change on a legislative level. For example, in Washington, deforestation laws were written mainly by lumber-lobbyists with loopholes allowing them to essentially clear-cut the mountain’s forests.

Ethically, Professor Leventer posited, how do you judge the people who wrote these laws? Is killing a person slowly and indirectly better than killing them quickly? He suggested that when judging others, people put too much weight on a motive, and that if people owned up to the consequences of their greedy actions, they might give pause before writing these laws.

On a personal level, Professor Leventer was encouraging. He proposed that even when the result of one’s actions seems miniscule, as in the recycling of one bottle, there are great immediate personal gains. Even to those who don’t believe in global warming, recycling a bottle makes one into a person more likely to recycle, and therefore more virtuous than he would have been otherwise.

Altogether, it was a fascinating evening for all participants!


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