3.1       Introduction: Moral care for nature

Environmental ethics emerged as a new sub-discipline of philosophy in the early 1970s. Until that time philosophy had been questioning human actions towards human beings. Actions towards nature were dealt with in an anthropocentric way. Those actions were good or not good when the well-being of humans was at stake.

Since the 1970s traditional anthropocentrism has been challenged. In the first place, environmental ethics questions the assumed moral superiority of human beings to members of other species on earth. In the second place, it investigates the possibility of rational arguments assigning intrinsic value to the natural environment and its non-human elements.