Endangered Species: Costs and Benefits

Pister, Edwin P.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 1/4 (1979), pages 341-352

Biologists are often placed in the difficult position of defending a threatened habitat or animal with vague reasoning and faulty logic simply because they have no better rationale at their immediate disposal. This places them at a distinct disadvantage and literally at the mercy of resource exploiters and their easily assignable dollar values. Although the initial dollar cost of delaying or precluding “development” may be significant, the long-term benefits of saving the biological entities which might otherwise be destroyed are likewise great and are measurable in concrete terms which society is only now beginning to appreciate. Case histories are presented, a more profound rationale is explained, and the environmentalist is challenged to make his case sufficiently effective to reverse the current exploitive trends which threaten so many of Earth’s life forms.

Why Should We Care about Rare Species?

Gunn, Alastair S.

Environmental Ethics Vol. 2/1 (1980), pages 17-37

Concern for the fate of rare species leads us to ask why the extermination of species is wrong. No satisfactory account can be given in terms of animal rights, and a speciesist perspective can yield at best only a case for preservation of those species which enough people happen to care about. An attempt is made to analyze the concept of rarity, and its relation to value. Finally, it is suggested that the problem can be resolved only in terms of an environmental ethic, according to which the existence of each species, and of ecological wholes, is held to have intrinsic value.

For a Grounded Conception of Wilderness and More Wilderness on the Ground

Cafaro, Philip
Talk given at the Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association, Berkeley, CA. March, 1999

Recently a number of influential academic environmentalists have spoken out against wilderness, most prominently William Cronon and Baird Callicott. This is odd, given that these writers seem to support two cornerstone positions of environmentalism as it has developed over the past twenty years. First, the view articulated within environmental ethics that wild, nonhuman nature, or at least some parts of it, has intrinsic or inherent value. Second, the understanding developed within conservation biology that we have entered a period of massive anthropogenic biodiversity loss and that landscape-level habitat preservation is essential for combating this. I argue here that Cronon and Callicott are wrong. In fact, an ethics of respect for nonhuman nature and an informed, scientific understanding of what is necessary to preserve it do strongly support increased wilderness preservation.