The huge diversity of freshwater fishes is concentrated into an area of habitat that covers only about 1% of the Earth's surface, and much of this limited area has already been extensively impacted and intensively managed to meet human needs (Dudgeon et al., 2006). As outlined in Chapter 1, the number and proportions of threatened species tend to rise wherever fish diversity coincides with dense human populations, intensive resource use and development pressure. Of particular concern is the substantial proportion of the global diversity of freshwater fishes concentrated within the Mekong and Amazon Basins and west-central Africa (Berra, 2001; Abell et al., 2008; Dudgeon, 2011; Chapter 1) with extensive exploitation of water resources planned to accelerate in future years (Dudgeon, 2011; Chapter 1). If current trends continue, and the social, political and economic models that have been used to develop industrialised regions of the world over the past two centuries prevail, then the future of a significant proportion of global diversity of freshwater fish species is clearly uncertain.
Understanding why so many freshwater fish species are threatened requires some understanding of their biology, diversity, distribution, biogeography and ecology, but also some appreciation of the social, economic and political forces that are causing humans to destroy the natural ecosystems upon which we all ultimately depend. To begin to understand the diversity of freshwater fishes, we first need to consider the processes that generated and continue to sustain the diversity of species we see today. Based on an understanding of how freshwater fish diversity is generated and sustained, we consider how vulnerable or resilient various freshwater fishes are to the range of anthropogenic impacts that impinge on freshwater ecosystems. Finally, we discuss how social, political and economic drivers influence human impacts on natural systems, and the changes needed to current models of development that can lead to a sustainable future for humans and the diverse range of freshwater fish species with which we share our planet. The aim of this chapter is to provide an overview of the key issues and threats driving the declines in freshwater fish diversity identified in Chapter 1; subsequent chapters provide more detail on the key issues and address our options for developing a sustainable future for freshwater fishes.
In The Second-Person Standpoint, I argue that a distinctive kind of reason for acting, a second-personal reason, is an ineliminable aspect of many central moral categories, including rights, moral responsibility, moral obligation, respect for and the dignity of persons, and the very concept of moral agent or person itself. Second-personal reasons are distinguished from reasons of other kinds by their conceptual relations to authoritative claims and demands that must be able to be addressed to those to whom they apply (second-personally, as it were). I have argued, more specifically, that there are four interdefinable, irreducibly second-personal notions: the authority to make a claim or demand, a valid (authoritative) claim or demand, responsibility to someone (with the relevant authority), and a second-personal reason for acting (that is, for complying with an authoritative claim or demand and so discharging the responsibility). Each one of these notions entails the other three, and no proposition that does not already involve one of these four concepts can entail any that does.
Call the authority I am concerned with practical authority to distinguish it from various forms of epistemic authority or expertise, including the kind of authority on practical matters a trusted advisor might have. A challenge that can be posed to my irreducibility thesis is that it is possible to establish claims to practical authority by invoking solely non-second-personal reasons.
Historians commonly date the beginning of early modern epistemology and metaphysics from Descartes’s attempt in the Meditations to find a foundation for knowledge that is immune to skeptical challenge for an individual self-critical mind. There is no comparable consensus about when early modern ethical philosophy begins, but, as J. B. Schneewind has argued, it makes sense to link it similarly to an engagement with forms of ethical skepticism in the writings of Montaigne in the late sixteenth century and Hugo Grotius in the early seventeenth. If one were to seek a parallel canonical moment, one might do no better than a passage in Grotius’s On the Law of War and Peace (1625), in which Grotius puts into the mouth of the ancient skeptic Carneades the challenge that “[T]here is no law of nature, because all creatures … are impelled by nature towards ends advantageous to themselves … [C]onsequently, there is no justice, or if such there be, it is supreme folly, since one does violence to his own interests if he consults the advantage of others.”
To appreciate the force of this challenge, we must know what Grotius and his contemporaries would have understood by a “law of nature.” Natural laws (of the normative or ethical sort) were thought of as universal norms that impose obligations on anyone who is capable of following them, on all moral agents, rather than on citizens of a more specific jurisdiction. And, differently from positive law, they were thought to require no positing, legislative act, at least no human one.
Relatively little of Berkeley's published work is devoted explicitly to the philosophy of ethics and politics. Berkeley did project a Part II of his Principles that would have included ethics, but he lost the manuscript while traveling in Italy in 1715, and Part II never appeared. This leaves Passive Obedience (a brief treatment of the duty to obey the sovereign), Dialogues 2 and 3 of Alciphron, which deal with the ethics of Mandeville and Shaftesbury, respectively, and various passages scattered throughout his other works. At the same time, however, a profoundly ethical interest infuses virtually the whole of Berkeley's corpus. For example, Berkeley begins the Preface to the Dialogues by insisting, against “men of leisure” who are “addicted to speculative studies,” that it should be a commonplace that “the end of speculation [is] practice, or the improvement of our lives and actions.” If his readers can be convinced by his arguments in the Dialogues, he adds, they will be shown how speculation can be “referred to practice” (DHP 1 ). The point is not that the Dialogues explicitly discuss practical matters; to the contrary, they are taken up almost entirely with issues of epistemology and metaphysics. Rather, Berkeley believes that only by refuting the doctrine of material substance can he establish securely the existence of a benevolent, “all-seeing God” and the immortality of the soul, both of which he thinks necessary to ground morality and secure it from the attacks and distracting counsels of atheistic, freethinking libertines (DHP 1[167-8]).
Morality seems to bind us in a special way. In part, this is because it can require us to do things, and not just recommend them. But our ends can generate a kind of requirement too. If I am bent on driving to Brighton and the only way of getting there is via US 23, there is a sense in which I am required to take that route. Still, this requirement is escapable or optional, since it arises only relative to my choice of end. I can avoid it entirely if I decide to drive to Chelsea rather than Brighton. Maybe what is special about morality, then, is that its requirements are inescapable or nonoptional. However, there are plenty of requirements, not themselves moral, that I cannot escape at my option. If I drive to Brighton, the law says I must carry a valid license with me, whether I want to or not. This requirement of Michigan law is not itself a requirement of morality, even if morality normally requires me to obey it. Philippa Foot famously made a similar point about etiquette. The prohibition on eating peas with a knife is not suspended if I want to impress my hosts with my digital dexterity or, perhaps especially, if I want to shock their socks off.
Philosophers frequently seek to capture the special character of moral requirements with the Kantian claim that they are categorical imperatives.
How can an agent's desire or will give him reasons for acting? Not long ago, this might have seemed a silly question, since it was widely believed that all reasons for acting are based in the agent's desires. The interesting question, it seemed, was not how what an agent wants could give him reasons, but how anything else could. In recent years, however, this earlier orthodoxy has increasingly appeared wrongheaded as a growing number of philosophers have come to stress the action-guiding role of reasons in deliberation from the agent's point of view. What a deliberating agent has in view is rarely his own will or desires as such, even if taking something as a reason is intimately tied to desire. Someone who wants to escape a burning building does not evaluate her options by considering which is likeliest to realize what she wants or wills. She is focused, rather, on her desire's object: getting out alive. The fact that a successful route would realize something she wants is apt to strike her as beside the point or, at best, as a trivial bonus.
This point is sometimes put by saying that desires are in the “background,” rather than the foreground, of the practical scene a deliberating agent faces. The metaphor is somewhat misleading, however, since an agent's desires are normally not so much in the background of her deliberative field as outside of it altogether. If we must locate them spatially, a better place might be within or behind the standpoint from which the agent views her alternatives rather than toward the back of the scene she views.
Call the proposition that the good life consists of excellent (or virtuous), distinctively human activity the Aristotelian Thesis. I think of a photograph I clipped from the New York Times as vividly depicting this claim. It shows a pianist, David Golub, accompanying two vocalists, Victoria Livengood and Erie Mills, at a tribute for Marilyn Home. All three artists are in fine form, exercising themselves at the height of their powers. The reason I saved the photo, however, is Mr. Golub's face. He is positively grinning, as if saying to himself, “And they pay me to do this?”
Mr. Golub's delight is a sign of his activity's value, not what makes it good. His pleasure “completes the activity … as an end which supervenes as the bloom of youth does on those in the flower of their age” (1174b33-35). The metaphor is apt, since “eudaimonia,” Aristotle's term for the human good, is frequently translated as “flourishing.” “Flourish” comes from the same Old French root as “flower” (“ florir ”). When applied to plants and trees, “flourish” meant to grow vigorously to the point of putting out leaves or flowers. And a “flourish” was originally the bios som itself. More generally, something flourishes when it thrives or prospers as a healthy plant does coming to full flower. Making the relevant substitutions, Mr. Golub's manifest enjoyment is the sign of his flourishing, its flower or “flourish.” What his flourishing consists in, however, is the excellent activity that produces his delight.
For Hobbes and Cumberland, the rationale for the internal turn was philosophical naturalism. If ethics is simply the study of “consequences from the passions of men,” and if “the Whole of moral Philosophy” is to be “resolv'd into … conclusions of true Natural Philosophy” then there may seem nothing plausible for morality's normative grip to be other than its motive power, viewed from the perspective of a rational human agent. From an agent's point of view, empirical truths to which an observer is indifferent can present themselves as demands – as matters of practical, rather than merely natural, necessity. To the agent for whom self-preservation is an inescapable end, for example, facts about the natural necessities of survival have an unavoidable practical force; they present themselves as what ought to or must be done.
Empirical naturalist internalism of this sort exercised a continuing attraction throughout the early modern period, as it has, indeed, to the present day. At the same time, a second, quite different, internalist line of thought developed alongside it: an autonomist internalism or internalism of practical reason. We encountered elements of this line, in early form, in Culverwell's notion that only a being capable of “moral government” can be subject to obligation. We shall return to it again in Locke's Essay thesis that moral government must involve self-government. Neither Culverwell nor Locke (at least in his earlier writings) proposed, however, that obligation itself be understood to consist in the motives of a self-determining agent, and so neither was an autonomist internalist.
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