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of the already underprivileged by visiting a disproportionate amount of society's environmental waste on them. Rather than seeking broad-based welfare improvements for the poor, as Rawls would, the environmental-justice movement seeks to improve environmental quality for the poor and to make decision-making processes and forums more inclusive of all members of society. A problem arises potentially when environmentalists place a higher priority on environmental justice than do the poor themselves.
The basic approaches of Western philosophy call for concern for welfare (utilitarianism), respect for rights (contractarianism), and respect for things that have "a good of their own" (Kantianism). The basic program of deep ecology is to take any or all of the basic ethical approaches and expand the set of entities that matter—that is, entities whose welfare counts, that have rights, and that have a good of their own—independently of human beliefs. For example, Peter Singer argues that society—in recognizing the relevance of welfare for ethnic minorities, women, children, and sentient beings—is already descending a slippery slope that must lead ultimately to respect for the welfare of all animals, plants, and even rocks. Singer is a utilitarian, but the slippery-slope argument can also be applied in ethical frameworks based on rights or intrinsic values.
The essential policy implications of deep ecology involve conscious and deliberate limitation of the impacts of human beings on the other entities that together make up the planet and life on it. Some would argue that Singer's slippery-slope argument is not entirely convincing. The hard work of legal craft and scholarship is directed to making the fine distinctions that protect society from slippery slopes, and history shows that society often has been able to stop or reverse itself. In application, deep ecology encounters two kinds of problems: the standard problems of the welfare, rights-based, and intrinsic-value approaches; and the special problems of grounding the expanded concern for nonhuman entities. What makes us think that humans are the only sentient species? And what about the welfare of nonsentient beings? Worthwhile exercise of rights would seem to require at least cognition, but some have argued that society could delegate to human specialists the responsibility of advocacy for noncognizant entities (for example, trees). Intrinsic value is something to be recognized by human beings; thus, broadening the category of things that have "a good of their own" requires that human beings see the light and so fails to provide a locus of value independent of human beliefs.
We have made a distinction between ethical approaches that attempt directly to value the consequences of actions and theories that seek to define valid pro-