Development of ethical norms: a natural imperative obfuscated by culture, politics and economics

Buckeridge, J 2005, 'Development of ethical norms: a natural imperative obfuscated by culture, politics and economics', in Proceedings of the 1st Baltic Sea Conference on Sustainable Development, Wismar, Germany, 25-26 April 2005, pp. 1-6.


Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: Conference Papers

Title Development of ethical norms: a natural imperative obfuscated by culture, politics and economics
Author(s) Buckeridge, J
Year 2005
Conference name Baltic Sea Conference on Sustainable Development
Conference location Wismar, Germany
Conference dates 25-26 April 2005
Proceedings title Proceedings of the 1st Baltic Sea Conference on Sustainable Development
Publisher Hochschule Wismar University of Technology, Business and Design
Place of publication Germany
Start page 1
End page 6
Abstract The observation, in the early 21st Century, that all is not well with the global environment is widespread. Acknowledgement that much or most of the recent dramatic degradation is anthropogenic is less widespread. Indeed, there are still powerful lobbyists who contend that the ubiquitous decline of biodiversity is a natural phenomenon. This paper challenges this unwillingness to accept responsibility for degradation of the biosphere; the ongoing degradation is one of the greatest ethical dilemmas yet faced by humanity: how to balance the needs of an ever expanding human population with those of the environment that both surrounds and sustains us. In light of environmental concerns, UNESCO's International Bioethics Committee met in 2004 to determine universal norms for bioethics. However, the meeting resulted in a re-definition of bioethics, such that it more closely reflected medical ethics. The new focus was to be on issues such as xenotransplantation, stem cell research and genetic engineering. Opposition to this came from bioscientists (rather than biotechnologists and medical practitioners), who saw mankind not as being separate from the biosphere, but part of it. As a result of this dissention, an "Experts Group", to evaluate environmental ethical norms, was established under the umbrella of UNESCO's World Commission on Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology. The document this group produced pays special attention to biodiversity and sustainable practice, and includes imperatives to respect all life, ensure environmental justice, ensure intergenerational rights and an appropriate recognition of the precautionary principle. Effective codes of practice, including ongoing professional development for those who use, develop and manage our natural resources, are seen as a priority.
Subjects Ethical Theory
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