- Is it more important to be a good person or to perform good acts (virtue ethics vs. action ethics)?
In my opinion, I think it’s more important to perform good acts and I believe that ends justify means. Although virtue ethics and action ethics are usually bound with each other, action is the ethic that would make a difference in the end. For example, some people would do philanthropical works to make themselves famous, regardless from what their original purpose is, the action itself actually help people in need. On the other hand, some people can just talking about being an environmental-friendly person all the time without actually doing anything, and this would not benefit the environment.
However, there’s always exceptions. In most cases, people with good virtue ethics usually have good action ethics too. Environmentalists are always the people who are concerned about the environment, and those who have no concern about the environment usually just live their own ways. But in the rare cases, I think action ethics are more important than virtue ethics.
- Does the process by which decisions are made matter more than the outcomes of these decisions (procedural justice vs. distributive justice)?
Being a realistic person, I always value the outcome more than the mean. In the case of dealing with environmental problems, we can only see the result, not the process. For example, when government is dealing with water contamination, all we know as citizens is that whether the water source is treated or not, or whether it is usable. Even if we know the process itself, it wouldn’t be much help since it’s already in the past, and only the outcomes matter to us as consumers. In the recent Flint water crisis, people are more concerned about if the problem is treated properly, not many are concerned about how the decision was made.
However, we still cannot neglect the process of how decisions are made. For example, when dealing with water pollution problem, we have to make sure that everyone who is affected has a say, not just those people with power. Just because someone is less powerful doesn’t mean they don’t have a right to stand for themselves.
- Do ecosystems matter for their own sake, or do they only matter to the extent that they impact humans (ecocentric ethics vs. anthropocentric ethics)?
Since there are so many unseen connections within the ecosystem, I think we should see the ecosystem as a whole, not just the parts where human race is in. To me, I think ecocentric ethics “contains” the ideas of anthropocentric ethics, being ecocentric means you want to benefit the whole ecosystem, and since we are living in this system, so we’re potentially benefited. But being anthropocentric doesn’t usually mean is good for the environment. For example, if we’re anthropocentric, we would consider our own benefit versus the cost to the ecosystem, it’s like the supply and demand relationship in economics, we need to find the equilibrium to make both sides happy, but so far the human race is still favoring its own benefit over the ecosystem.
Even though we are trying to protect the environment for its own sake, it’s hard to achieve ecocentric ethics in a short time. But I believe that we are all working on it, and one day we can sustain the ecosystem without compromising our needs.