Katie Greiner Module 3: Ethics

1. Is it more important to be a good person or to perform good acts? (virtue ethics vs. action ethics)

I believe that it is important for a person to perform good acts versus to be a good person. I think this because it is important to be someone who cares about the environment, but it benefits the actual environment more to perform acts that improve the environment. For example, a person that practices recycling daily is having a physical impact on the environment unlike someone that gives a speech about the benefits of recycling for the environment. In both situations, the people are promoting recycling but the person that is physically practicing the act of recycling is having a larger impact on the physical environment. In a situation when people are seeking to learn about environmental awareness, then virtue ethics is more applicable than action ethics. In this type of situation, people are seeking how to become “good” to the environment in hopes of taking future action. Both virtue ethics and action ethics are related because typically if a person cares about being good, then they will most-likely take action to help practice their beliefs.

3. Does the process by which decision are made matter more than the outcomes of these decisions (procedural justice vs. distributive)

In my opinion, outcomes for the decisions being made matter more than the process by which decisions are being made. This is why I believe that distributive justice is more important that procedural justice, because distributive justice is focused on actions and the circulation of the consequences of those actions. An example of the concept of distributive justice would be the government funded program titled, “Free and Reduced Lunches” in schools around the country. This tax dollar funded lunch program is designed to provide lunch and breakfast for students living at or below the poverty level in public schools. The students that do not meet the requirements for the program are unable to receive any benefits from this program and have to purchase school lunch or are required provide their own lunch because their families earn enough to provide food for them. An example of when procedural justice would be more successful than distributive justice would be a situation involving a town hall wanting to create a place or space in the community that will benefit all human members. At a town hall meeting, it’s important for members of the community to help with making decisions about the future decisions and actions that will be happening in that community. This form of procedural justice affects all members of the community, which means the decision making method should be more democratic as opposed to distributing the consequences of the decisions.

4. Do ecosystems matter for their own sake, or do they only matter to the extent that they impact humans (ecocentric ethics vs. anthropocentric ethics)

In my opinion, ecosystems are matter for their own sake as oppose to the extent that they impact humans. I believe this since ecosystems involve all members of the system, humans, non-humans, and non-living things. For example, TreePeople is a the Greater Los Angeles, CA Area program run by Andy Lipkis that helps to restore local forest ecosystems. The purpose of this project is to help with Los Angeles’ long-term sustainability. TreePeople has the goal of putting the ecosystem first in order to help benefit all aspects of the Greater Los Angeles Area Ecosystem, humans, non-humans, and even air quality. A situation when an anthropocentric view would be more important than an ecocentric view would be in the case of a natural disaster that endangers the lives of a great population. For example, repairing the city of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina flooding left most of the city underwater killing over 1,000 humans. During the repair of the river valley, the natural ecosystem, after the storm, was altered by shipping in dirt and sand in order to prevent more flooding and damage to the city. This decision of repairing the city was ultimately putting human lives before that of the new, natural environment. This situation of putting humans first was necessary in order to save more lives from being lost to flooding and natural disaster.

1 thought on “Katie Greiner Module 3: Ethics

  1. Hi Katie! My name is Neil Karmaker. You can find my blog post here:

    Your answer to question 1 brings up a very interesting point in the value of virtue ethics. I never considered that a person’s belief in being good may actually help and be good for other people. I always thought that it is highly important for the person to do good actions, and not necessarily be a good person, but your point changes the way I believe that action is more important than being. Thanks for the insight!

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