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Should Polluters Pay For Polluting? Essay

2070 words - 9 pages

Thesis: If polluters are harming the environment, the pollution is a moral danger to the ecosystem and should be resolved. If polluters can pay economic compensation for their disruption of the environment, this will not necessarily resolve the problems of the environment. Three authors in this essay offer different perspectives on the issue of making polluters pay, their explicit views of this subject are not observably mentioned in their work, just different positions for and against the idea. As the authors give different reasons for why or why not polluters should pay, they all mention a moral issue is attached to this discussion. I plan to analyze the authors’ readings and interpret ...view middle of the document...

” (Sagoff, p.53) According to this theory, Sagoff believes that the political causes he supports have little or no foundation in his interests as a consumer; different viewpoints are taken between the two actions. The true distinction between preferences has created a conflict that confronts what is wanted as an individual with what is believed as a citizen. The conflict therein is obviously one of ethical standards. In relation to the allocation and distribution of resources, Sagoff implies two terms that we can apply to this essay, on the subject of green taxes that may lend a view on the subject. Two theoretical concepts called the “Economic Man” and “Money and Meaning” are valuable pieces of information when applied to the concept of green taxes.
Picture a normal person who exchanges goods with other people who similarly buy and sell goods. This person is buying goods for low prices and selling high for marginal profit. The only constraints for this person are market prices and self-interest in accumulating potential income. This person is called the “Economic Man,” although the concept is applicable to all people as previously described. From this perspective, the outlook on making polluters pay could very well resemble an economic rationalists point of view. With this point being made, it appears as though “Money and Meaning” can be analyzed completely opposite.
In the concept “Money and Meaning,” what we value greatly is not always something we are willing to pay for. This term flows back into the original idea that Sagoff said we have incompatible preferences as consumers and citizens and environmental policy is based of one or the other value preferences we tend to choose. The example used in the text was about love, a good we value morally, yet if it were placed on the market we would never pay for such a good. “These things have a dignity rather than a price.” (Sagoff, p.69) The real damage of pollution comes from not just the environment, but from the incompatible preferences we the people hold as consumers, citizens, and the moral conflict that is created. Although Sagoff’s terms were loosely related to what resources belonged to whom and how they would be distributed, it also gave an insight to the original idea being asked. From this standpoint, ethically polluters should morally be inclined to compensate for pollution, yet the economic aspect of society as consumers, does prevent environmental policy from making drastic changes. The next author to be discussed on the subject of pollution compensation through taxation is John S. Dryzek and his book, The politics of the Earth. Green taxes are a concept seen in the sixth chapter regarding economic rationalism which simply regards the solution to environmental problems in the hands of the market. The definition of green taxes are the standards and charges for pollution control (Dryzek, p.129). In The politics of the Earth, Dryzek states that there can be two sides to this...

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