Critical Essay Topics ~ Possibilities


The following is to help you brainstorm topics.  You may chose one of these if you like but it would be best for you to modify it in some way important to you.  In a debate, a proposition is “resolved,” which means, forthrightly declared, and then defended or attacked.  That is one, but not the only way, to proceed.  The key is to be creative and to use clear ethical argumentation, while fallacies of moral reasoning.


Private property is sacred and the root of human liberty; it should not be seized, either directly or indirectly, by those pursuing environmental goals, however worthy. Possibly amended with ideas like: If the public through its government wishes to take away someone’s property rights, they should provide just compensation and have to meet democratically agreed upon procedures that establish when they can do this against the will of the property holder.


The decentralist political/social philosophy of bioregionalism and radical ecology ~ good, bad, or both?


Should resource managers with the National Park Service killing feral pigs in Hawai’i, or Golden Eagles on the Channel Islands off of southern California, to save endangered plant species, on the one hand, or species of the island fox, on the other?

Š       For a good start on pigs and other problem ungulates in Hawai’I, see the Hawai’an Conservation Websiste, ad in particular, this report:

Š       See, “Decline of an Island Fox Subspecies to Near Extinction” in the Southwestern Naturalist” at; for a good newspaper article see When endangered foxes are on the menu” in High Country News, at  [See also “Hostile Takeover” at ]


China’s policies to reduce birth rates are a violation of human rights [or are, on balance and in the light of environmental facts, morally responsible].


America should be given back to its original inhabitants who knew how to live in sustainable way on this continent.


Jesus [specify god(s), guru, or prophet here] cares about the nature commands people to be responsible stewards of nature.  Possibly amended in this way: There will be no environmental harmony until people place themselves in harmony with [specify god(s), guru, or prophet here].


What we dream impacts what is possible in the future; consciousness change precedes social change.  We should prioritize, therefore, changing human consciousness, creating loving human beings is the first step toward the New Age we all, in our best selves, know and desire.


The greatest moral imperative today is protecting the genetic and species variety of the planet. Possibly amended in this way: . . . and the best way to do this is to defend, restore, and expand wilderness areas [and/or biosphere reserves, and/or commons areas].


Environmental catastrophe is now inevitable and it will lead to hundreds of millions if not billions of refugees so the best nations can do, in the light of such facts, is to prepare for triage: helping the few they can help without harming their own citizens and the environments upon which they depend.


Human population growth is a good thing because it brings more minds into the world to help solve social as well as environmental problems.


Immigration [illegal and/or legal] into the United States should be [encouraged/discouraged] on ethical grounds, including environmental values.


Assisted Suicide [and/or euthanasia] should be widely available choices for people nearing the end of their life. Possibly amended in this way: . . . as long as there are safeguards in place to prevent people from being coerced into ending their lives earlier than would otherwise be the case / whether or not society imposes such safeguards.


Those in America should start by killing and eating the cows.  Then, they should replace them with native species who evolved here, such as bison, elk, and wolves.  This would be a proper and ethical form of reparation for the damage we and our ancestors have done to the continent, and an essential part of an effort to learn our manners and how to live ethical lives here.


Because sentient creatures have rights [or interests that should be respected] [and/or] Because of the environmental impacts of animal agriculture] . . . individuals ought to not eat meat or dairy products and they should do everything they can through public policies to discourage such consumption. 


Hunting should be permitted so long as it is regulated or otherwise done in a way that does not endanger native species or cause unnecessary suffering. Possibly amended in this way: Moreover, hunters should be allowed to sell what they kill to restaurants and markets, which is usually illegal.  This would be a way to establish “extractive reserves,” as has been done for forest people in the Amazon, so local people have an interest in keep forests and natural areas standing, rather than only in cutting or mining them for short term profit.


Civil disobedience in defense of ecosystems [and/or ____] is morally permissible [or obligatory]


Ecotage [without intent to kill or maim] in defense of ecosystems [and/or ____] is morally permissible [or obligatory]


Violence in defense of ecosystems [and/or ____] is morally permissible [or obligatory]


Ecofeminism articulates hypotheses that are plausible in the light of historical and scientific data and consequently, to solve the environmental crisis we must first [or simultaneously] overturn patriarchal attitudes and behaviors.


The real enemy of nature and the cause of environmental decline is social hierarchy among human beings.


Non-anthropocentrism, and ideas of the “intrinsic value” of nature, are impractical at best and nonsense at worst.  They provide no plausible ground for an environmental ethic.


The world is in such profound trouble that only a spiritual revolution, in which through ritual [or other practices such as ______], people come to recognize that they belong to nature and develop a corresponding reverence for it.


The priority for morally passionate and environmentally concerned people should be to tackle environmental injustices, systems, practices, and policies that differentially harm the poor and minority populations.


If we could just get the government off the backs of people, for example and first of all, by lowering taxes, we could solve environmental problems by unleashing human creative potential.


Mountaintop removal for coal mining is/is not morally permissible.


The “Limits to Growth” thesis neglects how scarcity produces innovation, which reduces costs, increases efficiency, or otherwise creates ways to produce the products and services people needs and desire that do not require the commodities that have become scarce but used to be needed for such products and services.  False ideas, such as, that there are limits to growth, lead to counterproductive prescriptions, which prevent us from improving the environment and enhancing human wellbeing.


Technology is not the solution but the problem; technological society should, therefore, be dismantled. Possibly amended in this way . . . by all necessary means.


The most plausible and hopeful approach to environmental ethics was provided by __________, and here are the reasons why: ____________.


The most ethical thing one can do is to withdraw from capitalist market society, as much as possible, and establish alternative and sustainable models of human community that do not erode biodiversity.  In short, lifestyle activism is the only plausible path toward sustainability.


The world needs and ought to establish [or does not need and should avoid] strong, international treaties to protect the environment, which are enforceable by an internationally established and well-funded law enforcement agency and judicial processes.


If we examine all the facts and conduct a careful risk assessment it is clear that nuclear power should be rapidly developed as part of a comprehensive, global strategy to reduce global warming and the mostly negative changes that it is precipitating.



to Fallacies of Moral Reasoning