PHIL 224, Week 10: Fishing and Mining


Nov. 22, guest lecture, Thomas Homer-Dixon, Ethics of Climate Change. Nov. 17 debate on Alberta oil sands.

Nov. 24, Assignment 3 due (hydraulic fracturing, wind farms). Instructions.

Dec. 1, Exam 3, in class. No final exam.

Structure: same as exam 1, 4 short answers and short essay. Only weeks 9-12 are covered.

Review questions are available at the end of the lecture notes.

How to do well:

  1. Come to class and pay attention.
  2. Do not use laptops or other electronics, for these reasons.
  3. Read the text carefully and critically.
  4. Prepare detailed answers to review questions.

News: Keystone XL, rhino extinction, polar bears, Parkinson's disease and industrial solvents (twin study)

Review: Zombie and alien ethics.

Fishing (Raymond Rogers)

Do fish have rights or intrinsic value? Are they ethically equal to people?

How are fish vulnerable to economic globalization?

Privatization, deregulation, free trade.

Why are fish stocks collapsing? Is collapse an example of the tragedy of the commons?

Conservation strategies

  1. Appreciate that standard practices are destructive.
  2. Create a new social context.
  3. Community-based conservation:
    1. Define the community.
    2. Claim of ownership of resources by the community.
    3. Democratically created regulation within the community.

Mining (Wesley Cragg et al.)

Debate: Are the Western Canadian Oil Sands Ethical?

Responsibilities of companies

  1. Bargain fairly with voluntary stakeholders.
  2. Consider consequences for involuntary stakeholders.
  3. Distinguish between voluntary and involuntary stakeholders.
  4. Support a fair distribution for all stakeholders.
    1. Mitigate (reduce) risk.
    2. Fair compensation for costs.
    3. Fair distribution of benefits.
  5. Avoid impacts on stakeholders from which recovery is difficult.

Questions about responsibilities

  1. Is the environment itself a stakeholder? No: social issues.
  2. Are the five responsibilities adequate for settling issues?
  3. Will the five responsibilities have any practical effect?

Ethics vs. pragmatics: social responsibilities go beyond legal ones.

Why ethical mining is rare

  1. Companies interpret responsibilities narrowly to legal ones.
  2. Companies weigh risks for stockholders, not everyone affected.
  3. Companies shape public opinion.
  4. Companies don't anticipate public reactions based on fairness.

Appendix: Zombie Ethics (not on exam!)

Blog on zombie ethics.

  1. Do Zombies have rights?  Do voodoo Zombies have different rights than virus Zombies?
  2. Do Zombies have intrinsic value?
  3. Do Zombies have needs?
  4. Should ethical decision making consider consequences for Zombies?
  5. Are Zombies sustainable?  What are their environmental effects?
  6. Should we care about Zombies?
  7. Should we care about future generations of Zombies?
  8. Should Zombies be managed by governments or by free markets?
  9. How should Zombie benefits be distributed?
  10. How do Zombies affect international justice?

Review Questions for Week 10

  1. Explain why Rogers thinks that fishery collapse is an example of the tragedy of the commons.
  2. What does Cragg think are the 5 main responsibilities of mining companies?
  3. Why does Cragg think that ethical mining is rarely practiced?
  4. Essay: From the ethical perspectives of consequences and rights, are the Western Canadian oil sands morally desirable?
    1. statement of at least two alternatives
    2. consequences pro and con, and evaluation
    3. rights and duties, pro and con, and evaluation
    4. overall evaluation.

Phil 224

Paul Thagard

Computational Epistemology Laboratory.

This page updated Nov. 28, 2011