Social development versus saving nature? : a case study in environmental ethics

Magosha, Tendani Amos (2003-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--University of Stellenbosch, 2003.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This research project has been purposed at shedding light and bringing clarity and practical resolution to the ethical dilemma brought about by seemingly incompatible principles and value positions associated with the two contentious issues: social development and nature conservation. In view of exposing the contentions between the two above-mentioned value positions, this project has pitted anthropocentrism against biocen trism / ecocen trism. However, as alluded to in this research, many people in developing countries, South Africa included, are victims of poverty and hunger which need redress. Unfortunately the alleviation of the same has been made possible through ruthless exploitation and maximum expansion of natural resources and in the process, the environment suffered much. However, with social development, the natural environment is often sacrificed and conversely with the protection and preservation of nature, man is then condemned to destitution. With the introduction and the case expose forming the introduction of this research project in Chapter 1, Chapter 2 is devoted to the research methodology used throughout this project. Also, given the problem statement, endeavours to search for answers to the central questions are outlined. An analysis of the case study is also made in this chapter. Chapter 3 deals with the weighing of the classical dilemmas namely: anthropocentrism versus biocentrism / ecocentrism and this further entails the notion of justice versus conservation pertaining the case in point. These classical dilemmas are put into critical perspective in Chapter 4 wherein monistic value approaches are exposed in terms of their failures. Precisely, the either-or choices following from pure theoretical principles are put into question with reference to the case under discussion. An alternative, namely the pragmatic approach, which maintains a multiplicity of values, is hereby brought into play. Chapter 5 entails a critical appraisal of the decision to be taken by the Makhado Municipality Council with regard to the development of the shopping complex or the protection of the indigenous tree sanctuary. In conclusion, recommendations and suggestions are stated within the context of the case in point. However, it is imperative to note that these recommendations and suggestions should be read in conjunction with one another, and not in isolation from one another. Furthermore, the same should not in anyway be indiscriminately used as a universal standard in any similar or related case. Further research on this ethical debate is encouraged.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van hierdie navorsingsprojek is om helderheid en 'n praktiese oplossing te kry met betrekking tot die etiese dilemma wat voortspruit uit die oeriskynlik onversoenbare beginsels en waardeposisies wat geassosieer word met twee omstrede kwessies, naamlik sosiale ontwikkeling en natuurbewaring. Met die oog daarop om die kwelpunte rondom bogenoemde twee waardeposisies aan die lig te bring, stel hierdie projek antroposentrisme teenoor biosentrisme / ekosentrisme. Baie mense in ontwikkelende lande, insluitend Suid-Afrika, IS slagoffers van armoede en hongersnood, soos aangedui word in die loop van hierdie navorsing. Hierdie situasie noodsaak regs telling. Pogings om verligting te bring in hierdie verband, lei egter tot die genadelose eksploitasie en maksimum ontwikkeling van natuurlike hulpbronne. In hierdie proses word die omgewing ernstig beskadig. Die ongelukkige toedrag van sake is dus dat sosiale ontwikkeling dikwels geskied ten koste van die omgewing, terwyl die beskerming en bewaring van die omgewing op sy beurt dikwels die mens behoeftig laat. Hoofstuk 1 van hierdie navorsingsprojek bevat 'n inleiding en beskrywing van die geval onder bespreking, terwyl Hoofstuk 2 gewy word aan die navorsingsmetodologie wat in hierdie projek gebruik word. Dit bevat ook 'n skets van die pogings om antwoorde te soek op die sentrale vrae van die probleemstelling, en 'n analise van die gevallestudie. In Hoofstuk 3 word die klassieke dilemmas wat verband hou met die betrokke probleem opgeweeg, naamlik antroposentrisme teenoor biosentrismej ekosentrisme, en die idee van geregtigheid teenoor die idee van bewaring. Bogenoemde klassieke dilemmas word in 'n kritiese lig beskou in Hoofstuk 4 deurdat die tekortkominge van monistiese waardebenaderings uitgewys word. Die 6f-6f keuses wat volg uit suiwer teoretiese beginsels word bevraagteken met verwysing na die geval onder bespreking. 'n Pleidooi word uiteindelik gelewer vir 'n alternatiewe pragmatiese benadering wat eerder 'n veelheid van waardes betrek. Hoofstuk 5 bevat 'n kritiese beoordeling van die keuse wat die Makhado Munisipaliteitsraad moet maak tussen die ontwikkeling van 'n winkelkompleks of die beskerming van 'n inheemse boomreservaat. Ter afsluiting word aanbevelings en voorstelle gemaak in verband met die kwessie onder bespreking. Dit is egter belangrik om daarop te let dat hierdie aanbevelings en voorstelle nie apart van mekaar beskou moet word nie, maar eerder saam gelees moet word. Dit is verder ook belangrik dat die aanbevelings en voorstelle wat met betrekking tot hierdie geval gemaak word nie sonder meer gebruik moet word as 'n universele standaard vir soortgelyke of verwante gevalle nie. Verdere navorsing oor hierdie etiese debat word aangemoedig.

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