Faculty Research at Morehead State University


A Natural Law Based Environmental Ethic

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2009


In his recent book Natural Law and Practical Rationality, Mark Murphy develops a sophisticated version of a natural law account of practical rationality. I shall show that with only a few minor changes, Murphy's account can be developed into an environmental ethic that generates human obligations to non-human animals, plants, and perhaps even eco- systems and machines. (I shall not discuss here the plausibility of this extension of Murphy's account, relative to competing accounts in environmental ethics; that discussion will have to wait for another occasion.) I begin with a brief sketch of Murphy's account, and then proceed to show how it can be developed into an environmental ethic, with particular attention to several crucial places in the overall argument of his book and arguments developed in other published