This article argues that holistic ecocentrism unnecessarily introduces elements to explain why we ought to halt biodiversity loss. I suggest that atomistic accounts can justify the same conclusion by utilising fewer elements. Hence, why we ought to preserve biodiversity can be made reasonable without adding elements such as intrinsic values of ecosystems or moral obligations to conserve collectives of organisms. Between two equally good explanations of the same phenomenon, the explanation utilising fewer elements, which speaks in favour of atomistic accounts, (...) will be the better one. (shrink)
The protection of species ranks highly among environmentalist priorities, and many environmentalists expect the public to respect and support efforts to protect and rehabilitate endangered species. There are a range of instrumental and anthropocentric justifications for these attitudes, yet some environmentalists want more. It is unclear that more is to be had. In particular, it is challenging to justify some environmentalist attitudes without appealing to some version of the claim that species are intrinsically valuable. However, this has been a notoriously (...) difficult thesis to defend, and it is clearly not available to those who doubt the existence of species. In this paper, I show how a number of environmentalist commitments that appear to be about the value of species can be interpreted and defended in a way that is compatible with antirealism about species. According to my proposal, the proper target of environmentalists’ evaluative concern is the irreplaceable design that is embodied by the individuals that make up a (putative) species. This approach can capture and justify many environmentalist attitudes about the value of biological variety without attributing intrinsic value to species, or even requiring a place for species in our ontology. This enables environmentalists to effectively sidestep a number of puzzling issues surrounding the nature and value of species. (shrink)
Biological diversity - or ‘biodiversity’ - is the degree of variation of life within an ecosystem. It is a relatively new topic of study but has grown enormously in recent years. Because of its interdisciplinary nature the very concept of biodiversity is the subject of debate amongst philosophers, biologists, geographers and environmentalists. The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Biodiversity is an outstanding reference source to the key topics and debates in this exciting subject. Comprising twenty-three chapters by a team of (...) international contributors the _Handbook_ is divided into six parts: Historical and sociological contexts, focusing on the emergence of the term and early attempts to measure biodiversity _What is biodiversity? _How should biodiversity be defined? How can biodiversity include entities at the edge of its boundaries, including microbial diversity and genetically engineered organisms? _Why protect biodiversity? _What can traditional environmental ethics_ _contribute to biodiversity?_ _Topics covered include anthropocentrism, intrinsic value, and ethical controversies surrounding the economics of biodiversity _Measurement and methodology: _including decision-theory and conservation, the use of indicators for biodiversity, and the changing use of genetics in biodiversity conservation _Social contexts and global justice: _including conservation and community conflicts and biodiversity and cultural values _Biodiversity and other environmental values_: How does biodiversity relate to other values like ecological restoration or ecological sustainability? Essential reading for students and researchers in philosophy, environmental science and environmental studies, and conservation management, it will also be extremely useful to those studying biodiversity in subjects such as biology and geography. (shrink)
Die Diversität von Nahrungspflanzen, ein Ergebnis Jahrtausende langer Zuchtbemühungen, ist in den letzten Jahrzehnten dramatisch zurückgegangen. Schätzungen zufolge machen von den über 7000 Nahrungspflanzenarten ganze 103 Sorten 90% der Nahrungsmittelproduktion aus. Dieser Verlust könnte in Zukunft gewaltige negative Auswirkungen auf die Nahrungsmittelsicherheit haben, da die Biodiversität eine zentrale Rolle bei der Absorbierung biotischer und abiotischer Stressfaktoren spielt, die auf die Pflanzen wirken. Darüber hinaus stellt der Verlust eine bedeutende Verarmung nicht nur des Pools genetischer Ressourcen dar, die zukünftigen Generationen zur (...) Verfügung stehen, sondern auch der kulturellen Diversität, indem die Nahrungsmittelvielfalt der Landesküchen eingeschränkt und sowohl Kulturlandschaften als auch Stadtgärten vereinheitlicht werden. Wegen der grundlegenden Funktion, die die Agrobiodiversität in der menschlichen Gesellschaft erfüllt, werden wir im Folgenden verschiedene Schwierigkeiten bei der Pflege der Agrobiodiversität als ein gemeinsames Erbe der Menschheit in einer stark ungleichen Welt erörtern. Zuvor jedoch möchten wir untersuchen, was Agrobiodiversität eigentlich ist und welche Funktion sie für das menschliche Wohlbefinden erfüllt. Ziel dieses Artikels ist zu zeigen, inwieweit sich verschiedene Anreizsysteme unterschiedlich auf den Erhalt von Agrobiodiversität auswirken. (shrink)
Rohwer & Marris claim that “many conservation biologists” believe that there is a prima facie duty to preserve the genetic integrity of species. (A prima facie duty is a necessary pro tanto moral reason.) They describe three possible arguments for that belief and reject them all. They conclude that the biologists they cite are mistaken, and that there is no such duty: duties to preserve genetic integrity are merely instrumental: we ought act to preserve genetic integrity only because doing so (...) is required by some other duty, such as the duty to preserve taxonomic biodiversity, or the duty to preserve the reproductive fitness of existing species. In permitting for instance the introgression of cattle genes into the genome of Bison bison we therefore do not necessarily fail in any respect ethically. I criticize the paper on three fronts. (shrink)
Should biodiversity be protected also for the sake of science, as is sometimes suggested? I argue that it should not. First, I explain the “science argument”, as I call it, which says that biodiversity should be protected for scientific purposes, as an object of science. Second, I give reasons against this argument. I argue that the science argument contradicts our understanding of the natural sciences. In addition, I show that science does not depend on biodiversity. However, since biodiversity research depends (...) on biodiversity, I then explore whether biodiversity research is important for science. I argue that the investigation of biodiversity is exclusively valuable for scientists personally and for humankind generally, as it shows us to what extent biodiversity is useful – but not for science. Therefore, the science argument does not convince. (shrink)
The global Climate Change has unprecedented consequences in terms of scale and severity over human life. The accumulation of greenhouse gases and CFCs has increased environmental deterioration which is called global warming. Erratic changes in weather, brutal blizzards and floods, vicious heat wave etc. are only some of the effects of climate change. But the most dangerous effect of climate change is the melting of ice caps on the poles due to which sea levels are rising dangerously and life at (...) the poles is threatened. It is also a reality that habitation in several countries , not very much above the sea-level, for example, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Indonesia, which have a threat of huge displacement of human beings and domestic animals due to global warming. The survival of millions of people in developing countries like India is more vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change because of their limited capacity in terms of human financial and institutional resources. India is the world’s fourth largest economy and fifth largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter, accounting for about 5% of global emissions. India’s emissions increased 65% between 1990 and 2005 and are projected to grow another 70% by 2020. The major impacts of Climate Change on India are major shifts in temperature, effect on monsoons, rising of sea levels, change in crop cycle, etc. India has prepared the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) in 2008 for energy efficiency and sustainable development. India is a part to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, a National Inventory Management System (NIMS) has been formed to generate a comprehensive knowledge base on scientific issues related to climate change and mitigation. This paper highlights the issue of impacts of climate change and measures adopted by the government to minimize the dangers. (shrink)
If we eventually discover extraterrestrial life, do we have any moral obligations for how to treat the life-forms we find; does it matter whether they are intelligent, sentient, or just microbial—and does it matter that they are extraterrestrial? -/- In this paper, I examine these questions by looking at two of the basic questions in moral philosophy: What does it take to be a moral object? and What has value of what kind? I will start with the first of these (...) questions by looking at the most important attempts to answer this question on our own planet and by asking whether and how they could be applied to extraterrestrial life. The results range from a very strong protection of all extraterrestrial life and all extraterrestrial environments, whether inhabited or not, to total exclusion of extraterrestrial life. Subsequently, I also examine whether extraterrestrial life that lacks moral status can have value to human or alien life with moral status, and if that could generate any obligations for how to treat extraterrestrial life. Based on this analysis, I conclude that extraterrestrial life-forms can have both instrumental value and end value to moral objects, which has strong implications for how to treat them. (shrink)
Precaution is a relevant and much-invoked value in environmental risk analysis, as witnessed by the ongoing vivid discussion about the precautionary principle (PP). This article argues (i) against purely decision-theoretic explications of PP; (ii) that the construction, evaluation, and use of scientific models falls under the scope of PP; and (iii) that epistemic and decision-theoretic robustness are essential for precautionary policy making. These claims are elaborated and defended by means of case studies from climate science and conservation biology.
The aim of this investigation is to answer the question of why it is prima facie morally wrong to cause or contribute to the extinction of species. The first potential answer investigated in the book is that other species are instrumentally valuable for human beings. The results of this part of the investigation are that many species are instrumentally valuable for human beings but that not all species are equally valuable in all cases. The instrumental values of different species also (...) have to compete with other human values. Sometimes these other values probably outweigh the value of the continued existence of the species. In general the degree of uncertainty is very high and the precautionaty principle is recommended to deal with these uncertainties. We also found that we have a duty to consider the interests of future generations of human beings and that these duties, in general, speak in favour of preservation. Anthropocentric instrumentalism therefore provides us with rather strong reasons to consider many cases of human caused extinction as prima facie morally wrong. Even so, anthropocentric instrumentalism does not fully account for the moral intuition we set out to investigate. The next potential answer that is investigated in the book is that species have a moral standing in their own right. The result of this part of the investigation is that this idea is highly unlikely, in particular because species cannot have any interests to consider. Anotgher potential answer is that species have intrinsic value in some other meaning that does not imply moral standing. We concluded that it is possible to be subjectively valued as an end and that many species have properties that make them highly suitable for being valued as ends by human beings. Finally, we found that our contributions to the extinction of species in most cases frustrate the interests of many non-human sentient beings. This is true if the species in question is made up of sentient individuals, and it is also true when the species in question is made up of non-sentient individuals that have instrumental value for sentient individuals of other species. There are exceptions to this rule, but all in all it seems that the inclusion of non-human sentient individuals together with us humans as moral objects, in most cases, tip the scale drastically in favour of preservation. The main result of the investigation is that there is not one but several explanations to why it is prima facie morally wrong to contribute to the extinction of species – and all of them are about duties to respect the interests of individual sentient animals, including human beings. (shrink)
During the last two centuries, occidental philosophical meditation has triumphantly advanced through previously poorly charted fields. Science has reallocated the methods as well as the goals of philosophy, forcing scholars to advance a little further, embrace new cognitive challenges and correspond to new social needs. As a result, our everyday life has become easier and our world is a better place to live in. But still, an optimum situation is not achieved. As a matter of fact, there are more things (...) at stake in our era than there were in previous ones. Even basic prerequisites for a prosperous life are not fully met. For the first time in the history of mankind, we can not even be sure about the survival of our planet, not to mention well being of it’s living entities –man included. So far, where is the improvement? Our ancestors may not have had the luxury of fast transportation, immediate information or adequate medical treatment, still they could take some things for granted: they positively knew that they and their successors would be given the minimum of chances: they, at least, would have a place to live. (shrink)
This book examines the relationship between environmental and democratic thought and the apparent compatibility of ecology and democracy. Although environmental politics is quite rightly seen as a progressive force, it has also featured a strand of extreme right "eco-authoritarianism" and its proponents have sometimes developed controversial positions on such issues as population policy. There have also been a number of situations where radical environmental activists have broken the laws of democratic societies in pursuit of ecological objectives and the book examines (...) this in a number of case studies on biotechnology, genetic engineering and biodiversity. This is a significant contribution to the literature on environmental politics, ecological thought and democracy. (shrink)
The book contains the first part of an investigation aimed at finding out why it is morally wrong to cause species to go extinct. That it is morally wrong seems to be a very basic and widely held intuition. It seems reasonable that a moral theory worth taking seriously ought to be able to account for that intuition. The most common attempt to answer our question is to refer to the instrumental value of the species for human beings – the (...) anthropocentric instrumental approach as I have chosen to call it. This is the answer that is discussed in this book. We have found many ways in which different species have instrumental value for human beings – both individually and as a part of ecosystems and of biodiversity in general. We could not guarantee however that this includes all species. In some cases, it also turned out that the instrumental value of the species in fact favours exploitation maybe even as far to the extinction of the species. We also noticed that there is no guarantee that the instrumental value of the species can always outweigh the competing values that we would gain by different encroachments that contribute to the extinction of the species. We found however that there are some special circumstances that help push the scale in the direction of preservation. I am thinking of some particular types of value such as choice value and transformation value – values that in general seem to favour preservation of species. This principle shows us that it would be rational from an anthropocentric instrumental vantage point to rule in favour of preservation in many of the cases where we are uncertain about the value of the species, about the best way of utilising the value, or about the connection between the species and other species or biodiversity in general. I am finally thinking of the moral principle that we have duties to consider the future interests of generations to come. We found that with a few exceptions it is justified to adopt such a principle. This in combination with the principles of precaution ought in general to urge us not to cause the extinction of species unless we have very trustworthy evidence that they will not turn out to be more valuable alive to future generations in comparison to what we can get from driving them to extinction. In relation to the discussion about the value of other species for human beings, it is worth noticing that all the arguments we have found in favour of preservation would be even stronger – and therefore account even better for the intuition that it is at least prima facie wrong to cause extinction – if we also accepted that other entities than human beings can have moral standing. Finally, we noticed that our moral intuitions strongly indicate that even in the cases where the instrumental value of other species for human beings talks in favour of preservation, there is still something lacking. Something we have to account for in order to totally account for our moral intuition against extinction. The conclusion will have to be that anthropocentric instrumentalism is in favour of preservation in many cases – probably in more cases than is generally acknowledged – but that it is not enough to give a complete account of the intuition that it is prima facie morally wrong to contribute to the extinction of species. We therefore have to continue our search for such an account. (shrink)
Economic markets are not morally free zones. Contrary to popular misconceptions, market functioning rests on the ethical principles of fairness and voluntariness. This ethical foundation can be traced back at least to moral philosopher Adam Smith, one of the founders of modern economics. In the inconspicuous form of microeconomic axioms, these moral foundations are preserved. Thus, virtually all “neo-classic” economic concepts presuppose a market ethics of fairness and voluntariness. In a world of pervasive uncertainty on the long-term development of the (...) human-environment interaction, the protection of the global life-support systems is an important test case for the scope of the ethical content of market ethics. We review risk protection strategies in the face of this uncertainty that are (i) based on the insurance effect of biological diversity, and (ii) that employ a safe minimum standard (SMS). Because the fairness principle of market ethics requires that economic agents who cause “external” costs must, at least, compensate those who are burdened with these costs, the interests of future generations have to be included in responsible economic decision-making. The market and market ethics approach is applied to the analysis of a SMS for biological diversity, and to the inherent problems of such an approach. At the microeconomic level of individual decision-making, an unconditional protection is supported by market ethics neither for the putative interests of future generations nor for biological diversity: Poor people who struggle to cover their basic needs cannot not be required to care for biological diversity. In all other cases, the protection of biological diversity in favour of future generations is supported—if costs are not “unacceptably high”. At which cost level this point is approached, market ethics is not designed to decide. (shrink)
It is commonplace to call for the protection of environmental diversity. I develop an often overlooked reason for preserving diversity: we should preserve diversity in order to preserve the unusual. I show that we do in fact value the unusual, and that we should value the unusual. Recognizing the value of the unusual provides a foundation for valuing species not otherwise considered valuable.