Department or Program

Environmental Studies


Environmental Ethics is concerned with developing a set of moral duties towards the natural world based upon a value theory, or a conception of what bears value. However, many environmental ethicists concern themselves primarily with the former and are lacking in the latter. This work surveys several prominent environmental ethicists and assesses their value theories, dividing them into two main schools: Kantian/individualist and holist. Both are found to be problematic in their articulation of a value theory. I propose a distinct value theory with a basis in the Buddhist metaphysical doctrine of codependent origination. In accepting this metaphysic, we are led to a conception of value in which there is a rational requirement to value both individuals and systems, but which is not susceptible to the problems of individualism or holism. I conclude by suggesting that my value theory, which I call “constitutive holism,” can provide a basis for a coherent environmental ethic.

Level of Access

Restricted: Campus/Bates Community Only Access

First Advisor

Cummiskey, David

Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2014

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file


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