The Influence of environmental virtue ethics in water conservation
Our world, our common home, is in a tragic crisis because of increasing environmental degradation brought about by human activity. While it must be acknowledged that a lot has been done to mitigate environmental degradation at global, regional and national levels, there has been an over-reliance on solutions that revolve around policy -, economy -, science- and technology-based interventions, that have at times placed a further burden on the natural environment. The study contends that people, not rules or consequences, are the root cause of change, and argues for a radical change in the way we look at environmental morality – beyond a notion of obligations, and towards the development of virtues and habits for human flourishing. From a conservation perspective, virtue ethics is concerned with the type of virtuous characteristics man must have in relation to how he interacts with the earth and how he preserves its well-being. The study tries to establish the extent to which Virtue Ethics has a positive influence on decision-making concerning water conservation in particular. It also explores on the reasons for promoting virtue Ethics as a framework for conservation ethics in general, especially among the youth who have an opportunity to really change the course of the planet’s future. This research has taken a mixed approach by integrating quantitative and qualitative analyses, based on data collected from a sample of 698 secondary school students in Kiambu County. The research has identified various perceptions held by the youth regarding virtue ethics, specifically as it relates to water conservation. The research also identifies the perceptions of youth regarding some of the merits of using a virtue-oriented approach for conservation. The research reveals that, indeed, there is proportion of youth who use virtue ethics as their main ethical framework for decision making concerning water conservation; they do this mainly with a non-utilitarian and non-obligatory intention, and they do this as a stable habit of character under different contextual settings. The research concludes that Environmental Virtue Ethics can be effective as an ethical framework for water conservation among the youth.