Wilderness, Morality, and Value

Lexington Books (2022)
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Abstract

What if wilderness is bad for wildlife? This question motivates the philosophical investigation in Wilderness, Morality, and Value. Environmentalists aim to protect wilderness, and for good reasons, but wilderness entails unremittent, incalculable suffering for its non-human habitants. Given that it will become increasingly possible to augment nature in ways that ameliorates some of this suffering, the morality of wilderness preservation is itself in question. Joshua S. Duclos argues that the technological and ethical reality of the Anthropocene warrants a fundamental reassessment of the value of wilderness. After exposing the moral ambiguity of wilderness preservation, he explores the value of wilderness itself by engaging with anthropocentricism and nonanthropocentrism; sentientism, biocentrism, and ecocentrism; and instrumental value and intrinsic value. Duclos argues that the value of wilderness is a narrow form of anthropocentric intrinsic value, one with a religio-spiritual dimension. By integrating scholarship from bioethics on the norms of engineering human nature with debates in environmental ethics concerning the prospect of engineering non-human nature, Wilderness, Morality, and Value sets the stage for wilderness ethics—or wilderness faith—in the Anthropocene.

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Joshua Duclos
St. Paul's School (NH)

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