Valuing Predation in Rolston’s Environmental Ethics: Bambi Lovers versus Tree Huggers

Hettinger, Ned
Environmental Ethics Vol. 16/1 (1994), pages 3-20

Without modification, Rolston’s environmental ethics is biased in favor of plants, since he gives them stronger protection than animals. Rolston can avoid this bias by extending his principle protecting plants (the principle of the nonloss of goods) to human interactions with animals. Were he to do so, however, he would risk undermining his acceptance of meat eating and certain types of hunting. I argue, nevertheless, that meat eating and hunting, properly conceived, are compatible with this extended ethics. As the quintessential natural process, carnivorous predation is rightfully valued and respected by such environmentalists as Rolston.
Because the condemnation of human participation in predation by animal activists suggests a hatred of nature, the challenge for Rolston’s animal activist critics is to show that one can properly appreciate natural predation while consistently and plausibly objectig to human participation in it.