Tree huggers are often ridiculed. In this society, loving the natural world–really feeling connected–is not exactly encouraged. But if we accept the ecological and philosophical principle of the “biotic community,” then should we not ask, what kind of relationship are we having? How should we feel? What are our duties and obligations to fellow members? If we truly understand the ecological basis of our existence, these questions are not really optional, but essential.
Imagine that you are engaged in a conversation with a group of high school seniors about to graduate. Let’s imagine they are “the next generation,” and you are in a position to teach them, to help them transcend the limitations of social conditioning. You are going to teach them to think more critically.
As most of us did, they are growing up in a civilization that has little regard or understanding for the environment on which it depends. They have no substantial sense of a land or environmental ethic. Their values and principles when it comes to the natural world are hazy, undeveloped, and confused. And yet, they know that there is an environmental crisis, that humans are hastening climate change, and that their future is uncertain.
This is the audience for your essay. Here is the prompt:
What is our ethical obligation to the environment, our biotic community?
Note: this is a general question, but your answer in the form of a thesis must be specific and narrow. There are many possible answers, so select your concept(s) or principle(s) as you see fit.
Based on what you have learned in this module, present, defend, and support your own specific ethical argument, borrowing some ideas from others as needed. Keep the image of your audience in your mind at all times. Imagine that they are resistant to being told, as so many teenagers are, what to value or how to think. Imagine, also, that they are terrified or angry at the prospect of having to take on such responsibility. They will object to or question what you propose, and you will have to defend your ethics with reasoning, as well as principles, facts, and examples. Ground your argument in “The Land Ethic.”
Length: 1250-1500 words approximately. Format: Use MLA format for the layout of the essay, as well as citation and documentation. Do not guess at the format. Consult as needed: MLA format.
Sources: Use the materials we have read or viewed in this module. Draw examples and evidence from these sources. You paper is also a demonstration of what you are learning in this course. If you need current data about environmental issues, you should do additional research, but this is not a research paper; it is an argument for an ethical obligation.
Most importantly, this is your original argument, not someone else’s. Your unique voice and critical point of view matter here. I am interested in what you think.
- Argument related, detailed title
- Argumentative Thesis (claim and rationale)
- 4 to 6 or more body paragraphs with thesis-related topic and conclusion sentences
- Evidence, examples, and reasoning drawn from course materials
- Strong final paragraph that draws the big conclusion from the body
- Careful editing
- MLA formatted Works Cited