Assisted migration is a controversial conservation measure that includes moving species threatened by climate change beyond their indigenous range. Sandler argues that assisted migration exhausts most of the value of the species moved and that assisted migration, thus, fails to be a workable conservation measure. We show how accepting the moral relevance of species' indigenous range helps to reconcile Sandler's argument with earlier arguments about value loss in ecosystem restoration by Elliot and Katz. Contrary to Sandler, they do not favour (...) losing a biological unit to retaining it in a human-influenced form. Drawing on the distinction between property- and history-based understandings of naturalness, we further argue that the outcomes of assisted migration to the predicted range are more natural in the property-based sense of the term, and thus retain more value, than the outcomes of "assisted migration" elsewhere. (shrink)
During recent years the relevance of environmental ethics to nature conservation has been increasingly questioned. This doubt mainly takes two forms: (1) Conservation biology is regarded as solely a scientific endeavor, and therefore ethics is redundant; (2) It is acknowledged that values are part and parcel of conservation science, practice and policy, but environmental ethics is considered to have little positive contribution to make. We focus on the latter form and argue that it enables only suppressed normative premises omitted from (...) critical scrutiny, and that relying on suppressed premises for making prescriptive conclusions is normatively unreasonable. Furthermore, even if the normative premises were well-founded, the stance has unwelcome implications. We show ways in which environmental ethics provides critical and structured manners of reasoning on normative premises. This invites more collaboration between nature conservation and environmental ethics in the future. (shrink)
In response to Albrecht et al.’s (J Agric Environ Ethics 26(4):827–845, 2013) discussion on the ethics of assisted migration, we emphasize the issues of risk and scientific uncertainty as an inextricable part of a comprehensive ethical evaluation. Insisting on a separation of risk and ethical considerations, although arguably common in many policy contexts, is at best misguided and at worst damaging.
Risk decisions often appear unsatisfactory after a calamity has taken place. This holds even when they are products of systematic risk analysis. Yet, if relevant considerations available to be known pre-accident were adequately taken into account and safety measures implemented accordingly, nobody seems morally blameworthy. In this paper, I advance a two-way argument. Firstly, I show how analysis of post-accident apologizing sheds new light on vexed tensions in ethical assessment of risk impositions. This amounts to exposing conflicting moral intuitions in (...) risk decisions, discussing problematic tenets in risk analysis as well as outlining three lines of arguments that destabilize the very notion of correct risk analysis. The analysis indicates that bringing different discussions of moral blameworthiness together facilitates resolving the tensions. It also calls for further and early-on collaboration between risk theorists and ethicists in order to carry these insights to risk analysis. Secondly, I argue that analysis of risk decisions, in part, reveals a discrepancy between the definitional work done on apology and what is required by ethics. Virtually every suggestion for the gold standard for apology involves moral blameworthiness as a necessary condition. I highlight different kinds of cases in which nobody is culpable, but an apology can be morally fitting or required. It would be nonsensical to say that, in these cases, one ought to apologize, but in a disingenuous manner. (shrink)
The SynBioSecurity argument says that synthetic biology introduces new risks of intentional misuse of synthetic pathogens and that, therefore, there is a need for extra regulations and oversight. This paper provides an analysis of the argument, sets forth a new version of it, and identifies three developments that raise biosecurity risks compared to the situation earlier. The developments include a spread of the required know-how, improved availability of the techniques, instruments and biological parts, and new technical possibilities such as “resurrecting” (...) disappeared pathogens. It is first shown that the general argument from SynBioSecurity needs to be qualified and that many improvements to biosecurity have already been implemented, most notably in the United States. Second, I suggest a new strain of the argument: the situation that most branches of synthetic biology fall under the gene technology regulation in the European Union and that this regulation in its current form does not adequately address SynBioSecurity risks together provide a weighty reason to review and possibly refine the legislation as well as the supervisory practices. Ethically speaking, the rise in the relative risk of bioterrorism brings to the fore new extrinsic issues. (shrink)
This paper spells out and discusses four assumptions of the deficit model type of thinking. The assumptions are: First, the public is ignorant of science. Second, the public has negative attitudes towards (specific instances of) science and technology. Third, ignorance is at the root of these negative attitudes. Fourth, the public’s knowledge deficit can be remedied by one-way science communication from scientists to citizens. It is argued that there is nothing wrong with ignorance-based explanations per se. Ignorance accounts at least (...) partially for many cases of opposition to specific instances of science and technology. Furthermore, more attention needs to be paid to the issue of relevance. In regard to the evaluation of a scientific experiment, a technology, or a product, the question is not only who knows best?, but also what knowledge is relevant and to what extent?. Examples are drawn primarily from the debate on genetic engineering in agriculture. (shrink)
The paper highlights shortcomings in the public consultation practices on the deliberate release and placing on the market of GMOs in the European Union and in one of its member countries, Finland. It is argued that current GMO consultation practices do not meet the aims and objectives on which their introduction is typically justified. Specifically, they do not serve democracy, increase consensus, enable better decisions to be made, or establish trust. We conclude that there is a clear need for the (...) active development of the GMO consultation practices and for a further critical discussion on the ethical and socio-political foundation of public engagement. (shrink)