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The Ethics of the Global Environment

Robin Attfield

Edition: 2

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Learn how ethical principles and concepts apply to global environmental problems

This fully updated and expanded textbook gives you new reflections on global environmental issues. It looks at issues including climate change, sustainable development and biodiversity preservation, and sensitively addresses global developments such as the Summits at Durban on climate and at Nagoya on biodiversity. Robin Attfield gives an ethical critique of current international environmental problems and negotiations, and explains how international regimes will need to change to be able to cope with global environmental problems.

New for this edition

  • A new chapter on the ethics of climate change
  • Up-to-date case studies on issues such as Haiti’s re-forestation project, food sovereignty and resistance to the Xayaburi Dam
  • New passages on lobbying websites and the Yasuni Reserve in Equador

Find out more


List of Abbreviations
Part I: Concepts, Theories and Values
1. Nature and the Global Environment
2. Global Ethics and Environmental Ethics
3. Trustees of the Planet
4. The Ethics of Extinction
Part II: Applications and Issues
5. Global Resources and Climate Change
6. Sustainable Development
7. Population and Poverty
8. Biodiversity and Preservation
Part III: Global Justice and Global Citizenship
9. Environmental Justice and World Order
10. Sustainability: Perspectives and Principles
11. The Ethics of Climate Change
12. World Citizenship in a Precarious World

About the Author

Robin Attfield is Professor of Philosophy at Cardiff University, where he has taught philosophy since 1968. He has also served as Visiting Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Ife, Nigeria (1972-3), Inter-University Council Visiting Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Nairobi, Kenya, 1975, and National Research Council (Republic of South Africa) Visiting Research Fellow (July/August 1999). He has written the following books: ‘God and The Secular: A Philosophical Assessment of Secular Reasoning from Bacon to Kant’ (1978 and 1993), ‘The Ethics of Environmental Concern’ (1983 and 1991), ‘A Theory of Value and Obligation’ (1987), ‘Environmental Philosophy: Principles and Prospects’ (1994), ‘Value, Obligation and Meta-Ethics’ (1995), ‘The Ethics of the Global Environment’ (1999), ‘Environmental Ethics: An Overview for the Twenty-First Century (2003 and 2014), ‘Creation, Evolution and Meaning’ (2006), and ‘Ethics: An Overview’ (2012). He is the joint editor of ‘Values, Conflict and the Environment’ (1989 and 1996), of ‘International Justice and the Third World’ (1992), and of ‘Philosophy and the Natural Environment’ (1994), and the editor of ‘The Ethics of the Environment’ (2008).


We have entered a unique century, the first century in the 35 million centuries of life on Earth in which one species can jeopardize the planet's future. Robin Attfield’s biospheric consequentialism is insightful and persuasive, at the frontier of the crescendo of global concern for life on our wonderland planet.

- Holmes Rolston III, University Distinguished Professor, Colorado State University

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