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PHI3640- Moral Dilemma from the Perspective of the Environment

Aug 2, 2023

Module 2 Assignments

PART I (20 points)

Watch the first 35 minutes of the Video for a general introduction to ethics. We will delve into many of the basics (e.g., definitions of morality, law, etiquette, and approaches to environmental ethics) before delving into specific topics of interest. This viewing and assignment is meant to get your mental juices thinking in terms of ethics. Take notes as you wish or not. Up to you. It’s a video of a podcast.  Please answer the questions below. Link: A Romp Through Ethics for Complete Beginners (1-7)

(Note: you will watch only the first 35 minutes or so of the first lecture (Part 1)

  1. The professor talks about the moral dilemma and gives an everyday example. List two different moral dilemmas that are specific to the environment. For each, provide one supporting argument for each side of the dilemma.
  2. What is the difference between “Generalists” and Particularists”? Which school of thought do you subscribe to and why?
  3. She presents four theories about moral facts. Briefly describe each one. a. Virtue ethics b. Non-cognitivism c. Deontology d. Utilitarianism

Moral Dilemma from the Perspective of the Environment

The moral dilemma concerning the environment is the interaction of human beings with the environment. There have been several philosophical debates from the perspective of environmental ethics however the problems persist. The moral-ethical dilemmas are vast in number from global warming, disposition of toxic substances, loss of biodiversity, polluted atmosphere, animal rights preservation, and so on, we have numerous problems to deal with.

The professor had stated an everyday moral dilemma situation, and when we start understanding it from the environmental point of view we can start with:

The moral dilemma of Eating Meat (Non-Vegetarianism)

This is a very personal dilemma most human beings who are somewhat aware of their actions and their effect on the surrounding environment go through with, it is not easy to understand whether it is right to eat meat or Not. It is very difficult to distinguish or stick to any order in the moral dilemma, is it something that is into the habit of repetitive moral theorizing, or does it have some practical decision-making involved while taking action against it? Now, we have many parameters to debate on it from the philosophical or ethical point of view. Many theorists have supported the fact that animals used as livestock are part of our diet, and they are important for the holistic development of our health (Zangwill, 2021, p.298). The utilization of non-human beings for the benefit of human beings is not a moral offense. It provides us with necessary nutrition, however, we cannot deny that the same nutrition can also be obtained from plant sources.

It is also a fact that eating meat excessively affects the environment by disturbing the ecological balance and also sometimes realizing that killing a living makes us feel morally guilty so decision-making becomes tougher. Here, we can relate that no moral rules are always true or everywhere true, the dilemma is persistent and will be persistent as it is an individualistic choice.

The Moral Dilemma of Using gasoline-run Automobiles

In America, according to statistics about 330 million gallons of gasoline are consumed by automobiles daily in 2020. Most of the oil refineries produce these oils and as the stats state it’s a huge consumption value that we have, however, we cannot deny the fact that we are completely dependent on our automobiles to travel from one place to another. It is a daily necessity. It makes our job easier and saves time.

It is also a well-aware truth that the main source of air pollution in America is automobiles according to a report of the Environment Protection Agency. In the year 2020, pollution of about 68 million tonnes was emitted into the atmosphere of America, even after knowing the severe conditions of ozone depletion, unwanted deposition of poisonous acids, global warming, and visual impairment diseases are caused because of these emissions we keep quiet. Here again, our moral code of conduct is questioned and there is a strong moral dilemma to continue the same or to find an alternative solution (Braun, 2019, p.275).

Now, we have many electric cars coming up, which emit fewer greenhouse gases and air pollutants than gasoline-run automobiles, yet the gasoline-run automobiles are huge, so according to me the moral dilemma and its solution is a personal choice, it is us who can decide whether to go for it or not and this should always be based on collective growth and betterment of the human being and the surrounding environment.

Difference between Generalists and Particularists

They are the two different schools of thought defining the structure of the relationship between moral thoughts and moral principles.


The generalists emphasize the need for moral principles that govern our moral reasoning. They are not context-sensitive and use the case study method to approach any decision-making process. They believe that morality can only be rational when they have a set of moral principles (Thériault, 2020, p.20).


The particularists emphasize that denial of moral rules is always and everywhere true. Morality is governed by no rules. Whenever we act we have some reasons to act and depending on the context the reasons are sensitive. The reasons to acquire a moral action to take place are also context-specific.

The Particularist’s school of thought appeals to me more as there are many instances where we fall into the dilemma of supporting moral honesty or going towards moral kindness. There can’t be any particular rules to define moral decision-making actions, it can only be practiced and chosen based on the context.

Theories of Moral Facts

Virtue Ethics

The virtue ethics theory emphasizes the virtues or the moral character of an individual rather than moral principles. It completely depends on the moral honesty of a person. Virtue Ethics was proposed by Aristotle and he stated that virtue ethics can be improved only based on practice, by acquiring virtuous habits.


Non-cognitivism emphasizes not having any substantial truth in moral statements. It agrees with the error of moral theorists that there are no moral facts or moral truth in this universe. The theory also believes that moral statements are devoid of expressing a particular state of mind but are representing attitudes based on approval or disapproval based on personal perspectives (Wright, 2018, p.430).


The Deontology theory explains that the moral activity or action is right or wrong based on the action itself. It is associated with the Kantian approach where he believed that the actions are always with universal moral laws that govern them. The deontology theory guides our choices and decides what we ought to do and what not.


This theory emphasizes the actions that are prescribed to improve the happiness and well-being of all individuals. The actions should be weighed based on their consequences. This theory is against the theory of egoism, where self-interest is a priority. The theory believes in the greater good of all human beings. The theory believes actions are only right if they provide happiness otherwise they are wrong actions.


Braun, R. (2019). Autonomous vehicles: from science fiction to sustainable future. In Mobilities, Literature, Culture (pp. 259-280). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Thériault, G. (2020). Particularism and Generalism Revisited: Towards a Principled Particularism of Contingency (Doctoral dissertation, Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa).

Wright, C. (2018). Logical non-cognitivism. Philosophical Issues28(1), 425-450.

Zangwill, N. (2021). Our Moral Duty to Eat Meat. Journal of the American Philosophical Association7(3), 295-311.

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