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Ethical reflection about water disputes in the Pacific Northwest; the benefits of an ecojustice approach


, : Ethical reflection about water disputes in the Pacific Northwest; the benefits of an ecojustice approach. Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America 33(6): 329

Water allocation disputes have become particularly contentious in the Pacific Northwest after federal agencies recently listed several species of fish as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. These listings require all sectors of society to make changes in water use in order to improve the welfare of various fish species. One of the reasons why debates about water allocation are so contentious is because key stakeholders hold ethical convictions that differ. People simply do not agree about the value of other species or duties owed to future generations. In addition, most stakeholders are not accustomed to articulating their ethical views because public discussions about water allocation focus almost exclusively on scientific, economic, or legal dimensions and not on ethical assumptions of policy options. This paper offers the concept of ecojustice and its related moral norms as a means to enhance civil discourse about water disputes in the Pacific Northwest. An ecojustice approach attempts to bridge the fields of social ethics and environmental ethics in order to discern and adjudicate various responsibilities owed to human beings, to future generations, to sentient life, to organic life, to endangered species, and finally to ecosystems themselves. Rooted in the principles of equity and distributive justice, ecojustice is more fully described through four specific moral norms: Sustainability, sufficiency, participation, and solidarity.

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