Sample Environmental Studies Paper on Environmental Ethics

Environmental ethics plays a significant importance in the protection and conservation of ecosystems. It guides the value individuals should have towards their interaction with the environment and its non-human entities (Matthews et al. 67). In addition, environmental ethics focuses on the philosophical relationship between ecosystems and people. The concept of environmental ethics grew with worrying trends of environmental destruction and loss of species. The end goal of environmental ethics is to generate the moral motivation and rationalization of ecosystem protection and conservation (Barman 115). Non-human beings also have to be considered in environmental ethics and moral concepts. Irrespective of human beings being the owners of the world, non-human beings such as birds still have a right to fair treatment. However, it mainly focuses on the individual level of how each person engages with the environment. In a policy aspect where an entire population has to be considered, its usefulness in solving problems is limited. Yet, deontological and utilitarianism ethical theories can be merged with environmental ethics to make it efficient in protecting the environment.


Paragraph 1:

Thesis Statement: Merging deontological and utilitarianism ethical theories with environmental ethics make it efficient in policy development.

            Paragraph 2:

Support 1 Topic Sentence: Deontological emphasis on duty would improve the people’s implementation of environmental policies.

  1. Improve acceptance of policy guidelines
  2. Enhance the obligation of people to the environmental policies
  3. Grow the adherence to policy guidelines by the people

Paragraph 3:

Support 1 Topic Sentence: Deontological ethics theory promotes ecosystems’ sustainable use and their non-human entities through imperfect rules.

  1. Deontological ethics theory allows for imperfect and perfect rules to base decision making processes
  2. Perfect rules are clear, logically consistent, and definitive, and people need to follow them
  3. Imperfect rules allow for consensus on whether an environment can be used to meet people’s needs or not exploited at all
  4. If the environment can be exploited, the imperfect rules argue it can be used but in the right way

Paragraph 4:

Support 2 Topic Sentence: Moral agents can be held accountable for their deeds and promote the welfare of the environment that does not have rights.

  1. the moral agent should not receive treatment as an insignificant means for other ends
  2. The environment and its non-human entities have no rights
  3. Animals are just a means to an end for human beings

Paragraph 5:

Support 1 Topic Sentence: Moral agents under the deontological ethics theory also introduces a prediction and assessment aspect of environmental ethics.

  1. Ecosystems are affected by past, present, and future decision-making processes.
  2. Moral agents are expected to assess how future events and actions can affect their moral judgments allowing them to protect the environment from a future perspective
  3. Moral agents are guided by a normative framework that can be used to assess their decision-making processes       

Paragraph 6:

Support 3 Topic Sentence: Under the utilitarian ethical theory, protection of the environment benefits the majority of the environment

  1. It is wrong for people to harm the environment that supports entire populations
  2. People have a responsibility of safeguarding the massive ecosystems around the world
  3. A mutual relationship among people using the environment is accepted but only if it does not lead to negative impacts on the entire environment and population

            Paragraph 7:

By including deontological and utilitarianism ethical theories, environmental ethics can develop effective policies that protect the environment while meeting people’s needs.


Deontology, as described by Kant, argues that people should base their actions on their duties and obligations (Frischhut 124). In environmental ethics, people need to understand the importance of promoting ecosystem sustainability in their daily activities. Deontology grounds people’s interactions with the environment based on ecosystem protection and conservation duties. As such, it evades people from undertaking environmental destruction based on environmental, ethical policies. The approach leads to a consistent decision making processes that reflect the morals of safeguarding the environment (Hirak 26). Through the deontological theory, environmental ethics can develop policies of sustainability that are adhered to and accepted by the people.

            Deontological ethics theory and environmental ethics also promote the sustainable use of an ecosystem and its non-human entities. The deontology theory argues that perfect and imperfect duties should ground people’s decision-making processes (Frischhut 125-126). In perfect duties, the rules are stipulated, and the deontological ethics theory expects people to follow them. Imperfect duties allow for some consensus to be reached when the definitive rules are hard to achieve. Together with environmental ethics, imperfect duties allow people to utilize the ecosystem, but only when the actions taken are right. Kant advocated for people to achieve this maxim of ethics by ensuring that individuals’ actions follow an ethical view (Hirak 26). When environmental ethics stipulates that people should utilize the environment sustainably, it is unclear to what end. However, the deontological ethics theory resolves this issue by showing that imperfect duties exist, but actions taken based on them should be ethical. The move allows for environmental ethics to safeguard ecosystems from being exploited negatively by ambiguous guidelines it issues.

The deontological ethical theory also promotes the ideology of moral agents that can differentiate right from wrong (Abraham 27). In this view, environmental ethics has to designate the tasks of protecting ecosystems to a being with consciousness. Humans are regarded as conscious and, as such, can take up the role of moral agents in the context of the environment. The environment and non-human entities, as such, have no rights concerning the people. However, as moral agents can discern between wrong and right, they are responsible for the environment (Lazar 580). It also guarantees that people can use the environment to meet their ends but have to do it rightfully. Together with the moral agents’ perspective, environmental ethics allows policies to identify people as custodians of the environment.

The concept of moral agents under the deontological ethics theory also introduces a prediction and assessment aspect of environmental ethics. Environmental ethics focuses on the individual actions of people towards the protection and conservation of an ecosystem. However, an ecosystem is impacted by past, present, and future decision-making processes. Environmental ethics needs to take into account how these different timelines of decision-making processes affect an ecosystem. Environmental ethics is limited in this aspect, but the moral agents’ concept solves this issue. The moral agents are expected to tell right from wrong and anticipate the occurrence of ethical and immoral actions (Abraham 28). The approach showcases that moral agents are expected to evaluate trends to determine how events could affect the future. Hence, environmental ethics becomes holistic as moral agents need to assess how future decision-making processes could affect an ecosystem and make adjustments (Lazar 580). In addition, moral agents need to base their ethical behaviors on a normative framework. The move allows environmental ethics to establish rules that measure moral agents’ success in protecting and conserving the environment. Hence, using the deontological ethics theory, environmental ethics can identify possible future risks facing ecosystems and ensure the custodians mitigate them.

Utilitarianism argues that actions that benefit the majority are moral than those that do not (Synowiec 148). The environment supports various systems, including the availability of water, food, and breathable air. Environmental ethics promotes the protection of the environment on the mentioned perspectives. However, it promotes it from an individualistic approach making it difficult for its inclusion in policies. Utilitarianism solves this gap by showcasing that protecting the environment, the entire population, and the ecosystem benefits the majority (Synowiec 149). In addition, utilitarianism addresses the issue of sustainable use of the environment. Utilitarianism allows for the use of the environment to meet people’s needs. However, it is limited to the point when the environment’s utilization starts causing harm to the majority of the population and environment. As such, environmental ethics, together with utilitarianism, allows the development of policies that adequate in safeguarding ecosystems.

Environmental ethics promotes the morals of protecting and conserving ecosystems in an individualistic approach. However, in developing policies related to safeguarding the environment, it is limited based on its individualistic view. Deontology solves this problem by placing the responsibility on human beings as moral agents based on their duties. Utilitarianism also mitigates this gap by showcasing that people’s actions on the environment need to benefit the majority.

Works Cited

Abraham, Kow Kwegya Amissah. “On Immanuel Kant’s Concept of Duty.” UJAH: Unizik Journal of Arts and Humanities 20.2 (2019): 27-52.

Barman, Mayuri. “IMPORTANCE OF ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS AND ITS APPROACHES IN OUR PRESENT SOCIETY.” XVIII Annual International Conference Proceedings, 2017, pp. 115-119

Frischhut, Markus. The Ethical Spirit of Eu Law. , 2019. Cham, Switzerland : SpringerOpen


Lazar, Seth. “Deontological decision theory and agent-centered options.” Ethics 127.3 (2017): 579-609.

Matthews, George, and Christina Hendricks. Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics. , 2019. Minneapolis, MN : Open Textbook Library

Synowiec, Jakub. “Ethics for everyday heroes–from Utilitarianism to Effective Altruism.” Ethics & Bioethics 6.3-4 (2016): 147-156.