Inegalitarian Biocentric Consequentialism, the Minimax Implication and Multidimensional Value Theory: A Brief Proposal for a New Direction in Environmental Ethics
Perhaps the most impressive environmental ethic developed to date in any detail is Robin Attfield's biocentric consequentialism. Indeed, on first study, it appears sufficiently impressive that, before presenting any alternative theoretical approach, one would first need to establish why one should not simply embrace Attfield's. After outlining a seemingly decisive flaw in his theory, and then criticizing his response to it, this article adumbrates a very different theoretical basis for an environmental ethic: namely, a value-pluralist one. In so doing, it seeks to give due weight to anthropocentric, zoocentric, biocentric and ecocentric considerations, and argues that the various values involved require trading off. This can be accomplished by employing multidimensional indifference curves. Moreover, after considering a three-dimensional indifference plane superimposed upon a three-dimensional possibility frontier, it becomes apparent that a moral-pluralist environmental ethic is, contrary to widespread assumptions, capable, in principle at least, of providing determinate answers to moral questions.