Foundations of wildlife protection attitudes

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 30 (1 & 2):3 – 31 (1987)
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Abstract

The history of ideas normally invoked by animal liberationists and their opponents cannot account for our basic wildlife protection attitudes, which actually developed out of the worldwide species?classification project begun by Linnaeus in the eighteenth century. These attitudes, formed in terms of a pre?evolutionary and pre?ecological belief in fixed and immutable species, were weakened to some degree by the rise of evolutionary theory and ecological science, since evolution provides a mechanism for the replacement of extinct species and depicts extinction as natural, and ecology teaches that ecosystems naturally adjust when species are lost. Wildlife protection attitudes are preservationist in so far as they are concerned with the preservation of species and conservationist in so far as they are concerned with the lives of individual animals and populations. From all perspectives except that of animal liberation, wild animals are predominantly viewed in terms of instrumental value: as a means to the continuation of species, the maintenance of healthy ecosystems, and for various other anthropocentric purposes. These various perspectives fit together within an aesthetic conception of wildlife which is strongly Platonic. From an aesthetic standpoint, wild animals, as exemplications of various species, are more analogous to mass?produced toys, admired for their design or structure, than the natural equivalent of original works of art admired for their own sakes

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References found in this work

Animal Liberation.Bill Puka & Peter Singer - 1977 - Philosophical Review 86 (4):557.
Environmental ethics and weak anthropocentrism.Bryan G. Norton - 1984 - Environmental Ethics 6 (2):131-148.
Philosophical abstracts.J. Baird Callicott - 1984 - American Philosophical Quarterly 21 (4).
The Treatment of Animals.John Passmore - 1975 - Journal of the History of Ideas 36 (2):195.

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