PHIL 224, Week 6

Environmental Justice

Assignment 2 is due Oct. 27. Instructions.

Guest lectures:

What is Justice?

  1. Right-wing view: justice is equal freedoms.
  2. Left-wing view: justice is equal wealth.
  3. Fairness view (Rawls difference principle): Inequalities must benefit least advantaged.
  4. Needs view: justice requires that all people have their vital needs satisfied.

Distributive justice: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

What is Environmental Justice?

Fair treatment of all people with respect to environmental risks and benefits.

Environmental discrimination occurs when a group suffer disproportionately from environmental factors.

Environmental discrimination against Canadian aboriginals?

Current Environmental Issues Affecting Aboriginals

Grand River land claim

Alberta oil sands

Mohawk opposition to Oka niobium mine

British Columbia land claims

Environmental Racism (Laura Westra)

Environmental racism = discrimination practiced through the environment.

Mohawks have close ties to land: different world view. See Mapping Minds Across Cultures.

Arguments for First Nations Sovereignty: historical land claims, self-preservation

Governance issues: Iroquois practices vs. Indian Act band councils

Mohawks are culturally and environmentally under attack

Change of values: world needs to move toward aboriginal values.

Environmental Impact (Ronald Puschchak)

Move from utilitarian methods to social justice based on rights?

Overflights have bad consequences: sleep, hunting, anxiety

Problems for Innu: subsistence economy

Fairness of environmental impact assessments:

  1. Temporal fairness
  2. Geographic fairness
  3. Economic fairness
  4. Cultural fairness

Sustainability (Wesley Cragg and Mark Schwartz)

Sustainable development

Should historical injustices be corrected?

Principle: The costs of resource development should be born by those who will reap its benefits. (Contrast: moral hazard)

In hydroelectric and other developments, costs have been imposed on Native communities without consultation.

Why First Nations are reluctant to cooperate

Aboriginal Environmental Ethics (Deborah McGregor)

Problems for research on aboriginals:

  1. Difficulty of authentic representation.
  2. Role of stereotypes and attitudes.
    1. Natives are peaceful, spiritual, guardians of the land.
    2. Savages.
  3. Omission of aboriginal concepts from research findings.
  4. Differences between Native and non-Native concepts and ideologies.

Review Questions for Week 6 (updated Oct. 21)

  1. Briefly explain 4 different conceptions of the nature of justice. For each, give an example of injustice.
  2. According to Westra, what is environmental racism? State 4 ways in which Canadian aboriginals have suffered from it.
  3. According to Puschchak, what are the four main criteria for fairness in environmental assessments? Explain each in a sentence.
  4. What do Cragg and Schwartz think are the 3 main moral components of sustainability?
  5. What does McGregor think are 4 major ethical barriers to research on aboriginals?
  6. Essay: From the ethical perspectives of consequences and rights, how should Canada deal with aboriginal land claims? Your essay should include:
    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 Oct. 21, 2011