Until now, theories of environmental philosophy have focused on the
extension of rights and duties to nonhuman nature. Due to the
inherent difficulties of this approach, a shift from the
contemporary language of rights and duties to the concept of
character development is pragmatically valuable. It appears that a
theory of environmental virtue ethics can circumvent many of the
difficulties arising from the language of rights, duties, and moral
claims by emphasizing the cultivation of certain character traits.
This work examines the general advantages of virtue ethics over
deontological and utilitarian accounts to illustrate the potential
for developing a theory of ecological virtue ethics. In addition to
providing a preliminary list of ecological virtues, it proposes
that certain types of rules serve as effective aids in the
cultivation of environmental virtues, since these rules affect the
way the moral agent perceives a particular situation. Ultimately,
environmental virtue education shapes and refines the moral
perception of a person and thus fundamentally changes the way we
interact with the natural world.
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