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Ethics for Wildlife Conservation: Overcoming the Human–Nature Dualism

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Abstract

This article contrasts the instrumental-value approach, extensionist approach, and biocentric approach to environmental ethics with the Buddhist approach of Daisaku Ikeda in terms of their meaning for wildlife conservation. I argue that both anthropocentric and biocentric approaches create a false dichotomy between humans and nature and are not helpful to modern wildlife conservation, which aims to balance the needs of people with the conservation of nature. The views of Daisaku Ikeda, in particular the principle of dependent origination and the theory of the oneness of life and its environment, constitute one alternative approach that does not separate humans from the natural world but places people within the web of all living things.
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Although there is disagreement regarding the
proper human relationship toward the rest of the nat-
ural world, most conservationists agree that biological diversity
is valuable and that the extinction of species should be avoided
where possible (Cafaro and Primack 2001).Justifications for
these principles vary, ranging from arguments that empha-
sizethe instrumental value ofother species for humans to eth-
ical theories that assert that wild species have intrinsic value.
In the face of increasing human population and the related
pressures on nonhuman species and their habitats, conser-
vation efforts have to reconcile the conservation of nature with
the needs of people. Especially in developing countries, peo-
ple’s livelihoods depend on the extraction of natural re-
sources. It is therefore not surprising that arguments for the
conservation of wildlife stress the instrumental value that cer-
tain species have for people, a value that can often be trans-
lated into economic terms. Such reasoning does not necessarily
support the reckless exploitation of the environment. Rather,
these arguments support the idea that species should be care-
fully managed as natural resources for human benefit. In
fact, most international environmental policymaking is un-
derpinned by a broadly anthropocentric approach to envi-
ronmental value. At the level of popular political debate, the
ethical agenda is largely composed of resource management
concerns (Palmer 2003). The most commonly cited definition
of sustainable development as “development that meets the
needs of the present without compromising the ability of fu-
ture generations to meet their own needs” (WCED 1987) is
anthropocentric (Cafaro and Primack 2001).Accordingly, it
can be argued that species deserve to be protected and con-
served insofar as they are good for people. The preamble to
the Convention on Biodiversity,however,affirms the intrin-
sic value of biological diversity even before listing other val-
ues such as ecological, genetic, and economic value (SCBD
2003).
The question of whether intrinsic value can indeed be
found in anything but human beings is controversial. The
debate on environmental ethics is thus largely concerned
with finding out whether intrinsic value in nonhumans is
possible or even necessary in order to develop universal the-
ories why humans should protect their natural environment.
This theoretical debate on whether nonhumans have value
independent of humans is criticized by environmental prag-
matists, who claim that while philosophers argue, the envi-
ronment burns.
In this article I contrast four categories of approaches to-
ward environmental ethics—the instrumental-value ap-
proach, the extensionist approach, the biocentric approach,
and the Buddhist approach of Daisaku Ikeda—and identify
the meaning of each of these approaches for wildlife conser-
vation. I argue that both anthropocentric and biocentric ap-
proaches to environmental ethics create a false dichotomy
between humans and nature and are thus not useful as an un-
derpinning for modern wildlife conservation policies, which
aim to balance the needs of people with the conservation of
nature. The views of Daisaku Ikeda, particularly the princi-
ple of dependent origination and the theory of the oneness
Barbara Paterson (e-mail: barbara@paterson.alt.na) is with the Avian
Demography Unit, Department of Statistical Sciences, University of Cape
Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa. © 2006 American Institute of Biological
Sciences.
Ethics for Wildlife Conservation:
Overcoming the Human–Nature
Dualism
BARBARA PATERSON
This article contrasts the instrumental-value approach, extensionist approach, and biocentric approach to environmental ethics with the Buddhist
approach of Daisaku Ikeda in terms of their meaning for wildlife conservation. I argue that both anthropocentric and biocentric approaches create a
false dichotomy between humans and nature and are not helpful to modern wildlife conservation, which aims to balance the needs of people with the
conservation of nature. The views of Daisaku Ikeda, in particular the principle of dependent origination and the theory of the oneness of life and its
environment, constitute one alternative approach that does not separate humans from the natural world but places people within the web of all
living things.
Keywords: environmental ethics, biodiversity, conservation, Buddhism, dependent origination
06 February Think Bio Paterson 1/25/06 3:37 PM Page 144
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of life and its environment, are one alternative approach that
does not separate humans from the natural world but places
people within the web of all living things.
Instrumental value in wildlife:
What species are good for
There are several frequently employed arguments for the
conservation of wild species. These arguments have in com-
mon that they focus on the value species have for humans.Ar-
guments that stress the instrumental value of species for
human well-being are called anthropocentric. In this view, wild
species are only good inasmuch as they are good for something,
that is, have a use or a value for humans. Such a value may be
economic (Myers 1983).Some wildlife species are of high eco-
nomic value for tourism, hunting, and live sale (Child 1970).
The value of an animal in a live sale or the value of a hunt-
ing trophy can be expressed in direct cash terms.Indirect eco-
nomic values accrue from the roles species play in recreation
and ecotourism, waste disposal, climate regulation, and pro-
tection of soil and water resources.
Species also have aesthetic value in that they contribute to
the diversity and beauty of the planet (Myers 1979a). The sa-
fariand ecotourism industries attest to the aesthetic value peo-
ple attach to particular wildlife species, which causes tourists
to travel large distances and to pay large amounts of money
for game-viewing safaris. Atleast for developed nations,
where opportunities to observe wildlife are steadily decreas-
ing, it can be said that the quality of life will decline sub-
stantially with the loss ofspecies diversity. In many developing
countries, game viewing and trophy hunting generate con-
siderable sums of money, and the aesthetic value of wildlife
can thus bedirectlylinkedto an economic value.
Aninteresting question arises here,namely,to what degree
and in what way do tribal communities see wildlife as valu-
able for quality of life? Members of developed nations trans-
late the wildlife experience into a monetary value for local
communities. But what value do the local communities attach
to wildlife? Newmark and colleagues (1993) have shown that
the support for or opposition to protected areas in Tanzania
by neighboring community members is based on economic
values, as had previously been found in Rwanda and Brazil.
Kangwana and Mako (2001),on the other hand, state that later
surveys indicate “that people living around the [Tarangire Na-
tional] Park hold cultural values which drive their desire to
see that wildlife continues to exist in their surroundings”
and that “wildlife is seen [by local people] as having a value
beyond its simple economic costs and benefits.In Namibia,
traditional tribal authorities support the establishment of
protected areas to help wildlife return to their homelands
(Mauney 2004).
Nature and wildlife are also a great philosophical and spir-
itual resource, serving as inspiration for religious, philo-
sophical, and spiritual thought and experience. This is not only
true for the direct experience of wildlife; the mere idea that
we share the Earth with blue whales, orangutans, and chee-
tahs, for example, can be inspiring.What is valued here is the
simple possibility that a species exists and survives, although
one might never see it (Fisher 2001).
Many species, including endangered ones, are expected to
have agricultural, industrial, and medical benefits.To lose such
species diminishes the genetic stock of wild animals, so it is
prudent to save them.We might not know now which species
will turn out to be useful in the future; therefore, protection
should extend from the current obviously useful species to
those that are currently considered less useful.Myers (1979b)
urges us to “conserve our global stock,” to conserve species in
order to protect useful genetic material.The purpose of pro-
tecting species is thus for their “enlightened exploitation”
(Rolston 2001).
It is frequently argued that many species that are not nec-
essarily directly useful to humans still play important roles in
the ecosystem. Although the loss of a few species might not
be too serious now,the loss of many species will threaten the
processes and interdependencies of the ecosystem on which
we as humans depend, in ways that cannot possibly be fore-
seen. Thus species are part of a life-support system: Earth is
seen as a biological habitat or home. Every species contributes
to the planet’s biodiversity, which keeps ecosystems healthy
(Ehrlichand Ehrlich1982).
Species also serve as indicators of ecosystem health. We need
to study species and their roles within ecosystems to under-
stand their interdependencies and to predict the impacts of
our actions on the environment. Species offer clues to un-
derstanding natural history and thus have historical value as
records of past processes. This argument views species as a bio-
logical Rosetta stone that may enable the deciphering of the
hieroglyphs of natural history (Rolston 2001). According to
this argument, species have scientific value because they pro-
vide humans with insights into the text of natural history,
which humans need in order to understand their own envi-
ronment. Some species are curiosities and a source of fasci-
nation to enthusiastic naturalists. Generally speaking, wildlife
species can be a basis for creative and intellectual thought. One
ofthe outcomes of such thought is a better-informed per-
spective on the natural history of the planet and its life-
forms.
Arguments centering on the instrumental value of wildlife
provide a basis for valuing and protecting species. Nonethe-
less, arguments for the conservation of species that are based
on instrumental value are problematic for conservation work-
ers, because they put the onus of proof on the side of the con-
servator.Conservationists have to explicitly and successfully
show that a species is worth protecting because of its value to
humans; otherwise, it may well be assumed that that there is
no such value. Thus this line of argument, if used alone, pre-
sents ongoing challenges for endangered species conservation,
sincemany rare and endangered species have little instru-
mental value. Moreover, arguments based on instrumental
value can also provide grounds for extinguishing species
(e.g., pests) or for saving one species rather than another
(e.g., when resources are constrained).
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Forced to prove the value of wild species, many conserva-
tionists favor the economic argument, because economic
value can be measured in objective terms. The economic re-
turns to be gained from species conservation can be ex-
pressed in monetary terms, thus providing powerful
arguments. In comparison,the scientific argument, the ecosys-
tem argument, and the aesthetic argument are considered “un-
likely to stand up against man-made pressures to modify
and disrupt natural environments” (Myers 1979a). Conse-
quently, it is argued that wildlife must pay its way, and eco-
nomic benefits must be stressed to ensure that wildlife will
survive in the face of other profitable forms of land use. This
view takes for granted the manmade pressures for environ-
mental change. Although the instrumental-value approach is
based on the need to conserve species as resources for the ben-
efit of people, this view is underpinned by a negative concept
of humanity. Humans are seen as driven first and foremost
by self-interest. Without external checks, such as incentives,
benefits, or legislation, we are,according to this view, in pro-
found conflict with each other and with our natural envi-
ronment. This view of humanity and of ethical behavior is
fundamentally pessimistic. Its conclusion is that we cannot
rely on members of our own species in order to protect en-
dangered species unless we make use of the very character
traits that endangered them in the first place.
Intrinsic value in wildlife: Why
we ought to protect species
Richard Routley, who later changed his last name to Sylvan,
arguedthat positions that only stress the instrumental value
of nonhuman species do not provide sufficient ground for en-
vironmental ethics. He presented the “last man”argument, a
thought experiment in which he asked if the last person on
Earth, well knowing that no human being will ever inhabit the
planet afterward and equipped with the means to eliminate
all life on the planet, would be justified in doing so.Sylvan sug-
gests that most people would intuitively say “no”and call such
destructive behavior morally wrong, although no human
being would remain to experience the consequences (Sylvan
1998). This suggests that there is value in species independent
of their use for humans. Whether or not intrinsic value can
exist in anything other than human life, however, is debatable.
Unlike economic value, which is measurable, intrinsic value
is difficult to express and to prove.
Extensionist environmental ethics
One wayof identifying the intrinsic value of nonhumans is
to extend traditional moral theory, which concerns itself
with interaction between humans, to include members of
otherspecies, stressing their similarities to humans. The
search for features common to humans and other animals is
an attempt at building a particular type of moral community.
Most people have no difficulty in recognizing the moral bond
between parents and children, for example, or between friends
or partners. As we extend moral obligations beyond the
boundaries of our immediate environment, we naturally
look for features that give an inferential foundation for this
extension. Consequently, so-called extensionist arguments
ask what qualities give intrinsic value to humans, and then as-
sert that some other beings possess these qualities, too. In the
Kantian tradition, this moral criterion is rationality (Downie
1995), and one common justification for valuing animals
intrinsically is that some have been shown to possess some
rudimentary form of reasoning. Chimpanzees and gorillas
have been taught sign language; some predators, such as
wolves and lions, have the ability to coordinate hunts; dolphins,
whales, and other cetaceans send complex signals that we are
only beginning to understand. But basing intrinsic value on
these abstract capacities seems to rule out most animals, in-
cluding most invertebrate species.
Another moral criterion is sentience (Singer 2001). The ar-
gument is that because animals share the ability to experience
their environment and to suffer, human actions that inflict suf-
fering on animals are morally wrong. Using sentience as the
moral criterion does include a wider class of animals within
an extended ethical domain, but still restricts it to sentient an-
imals. Plants, fungi,and single-celled organisms are effectively
ruled out.
What is common to all extensionist theories is that they take
the ego as the point of departure: I am intrinsically valuable
because I possess the moral criterion, and I must grant oth-
ers who possess the criterionthe same rights. The problem
with this line ofargument is obvious: The scope of moral con-
sideration will either extend only to some but not all species
orlead toavery demanding code of conduct, since it is then
morally wrong for humans to kill individuals of any species,
unless justified through an appeal to our own survival. What
is more, extensionist arguments focus on individual organ-
isms ratherthan onwhole species. Such individualist ap-
proaches allow no moral consideration of animal or plant
populations, or of endemic, rare, or endangered species, let
alone biotic communities or ecosystems, because entities
and aggregations such as these have no apparent psycholog-
ical experience. Conservationists, however, are concerned
with the conservation of species and ecosystems rather than
individual animals. Hence it is questionable whether these in-
dividualistic approaches can serve as an ethical underpinning
for wildlife conservation (Cafaro and Primack 2001).
Holistic environmental ethics
In contrast with individualistic environmental ethicists, other
ethicists state that viewing nature as an aggregation of indi-
viduals is a distortion that does not appreciate nature’s organic,
integrated, and dynamic character (Palmer 2003).It is for this
reason, among others,that some ethicists argue a completely
newethics is required: Environmental ethics need to challenge
the philosophical tradition and to develop arguments that go
far beyond simply extending traditional moral arguments (Syl-
van 1998). Holistic environmental ethics focus on ethical
consideration of ecological wholes (Palmer 2003), which en-
compass all levels of individuals, aggregations, relationships,
and processes. Such non-extensionist approaches, also called
06 February Think Bio Paterson 1/25/06 3:37 PM Page 146
naturalistic or biocentric, seek arguments to support the
preservation of species, because all species represent unique
biological solutions to the problem of survival (Rolston
2001). More diverse biological communities seem to be bet-
ter able to deal with environmental disturbances; therefore,
if we value some species, we arguably should protect the en-
tire system of interdependent species. Examples of such holis-
tic approaches are Aldo Leopold’s “land ethic”(1970, Callicott
1998) and Rolston’s “environmental ethics”(1991). Leopold’s
essay “The Land Ethic” (1970) is considered by many the
foundational work in holistic environmental ethics, although
more recent interpretations focus on anthropocentric elements
in Leopold’s work (Norton 1996, Palmer 2003). To Leopold,
the community rather than the individual organism is the fo-
cus of moral consideration, and ecological qualities such as
integrity and stability are of primary value. This approach
therefore provides arguments for the conservation of species,
rather than individual organisms, inasmuch as species play
an important role in the stability and integrity of the ecosys-
tem.
Approaches that prioritize the whole over the individual,
particularly when the whole is the wild biotic community, are
widely viewed as ethically unacceptable or even fascist (Palmer
2003). The focus on the ecological system leads to a picture
of human beings, not as vital to the workings of the system,
but ratheras detrimental toit. Rolston goes so far as to con-
cludethat sometimes the protection of the environment
takes precedence over feeding hungry people (Rolston 2003).
Thus, wildlife conservators who adopt a biocentric stance see
their responsibility as protecting the ecosystem from people
whose actions are perceived as harming the natural envi-
ronment. Asaconsequence, conservation workers, in their
struggle to protect the natural environment, are likely to be-
come antagonized toward people. Such misanthropic posi-
tions sharpen the dichotomy of human versus environment
and are unlikely to be helpful in balancing the interests of peo-
ple with the protection of the environment, which lies at the
heart of the wildlife conservation challenge.
The debate over intrinsic value has been criticized as be-
ing of little use for environmental policymaking (Light and
Katz 1996). Whether or not nonhuman entities can have in-
trinsic value is considered by environmental pragmatists a
purely theoretical discussion. The origin of the discussion on
intrinsic value may lie embedded in the tradition of Western
philosophical thought. Modern thinking is strongly influenced
by Descartes (1596–1650), who divided the world into mat-
ter and mind, thus creating a dualism that treats humans and
their environment as separate entities (Taliaferro 2001). The
influence of 17th-century classical science on Western culture
is pervasive. Descartes’s skeptical, mathematical method un-
derpins modern science, and rationality shapes modern West-
ern thought. The scientific revolution replaced the organic
view of nature as a living organism with the mechanistic
view of nature as a machine (Merchant 1980). The organic
notion of nature carried the dual connotation both of nature
as a nurturing mother and of nature as an unpredictable
female who causes chaos through natural disasters (Mer-
chant 1980). The increased mechanization that followed in
the wake of the new scientific discoveries not only provided
ameans to control and subordinate nature but also led to a
mechanistic worldview emphasizing order and control.
Whereas the image of Earth as a living organism had served
as a cultural constraint restricting human actions in rela-
tion to the environment, the increasingly rationalized world-
view resulting from the scientific revolution portrays nature
as lifeless and thus sanctions its exploitation (Merchant 1980).
The result is a worldview in which humans and nature are sep-
arated and in which humans are seen as subjective agents and
nature as a passive object. This view makes it difficult to en-
vision people and the natural environment as mutually in-
terdependent. Whereas the dependency of people on their
environment is obvious, the natural environment seems to be
better off without people.
The oneness of self and its environment
Eastern philosophy, on the other hand, is not based on the
mind–matter dichotomy (Allwright 2002) but rather on the
principle of harmonious and nonviolent coexistence (Xian-
lin etal. 2001). Whereas the Western approach to nature has
been a violent one focused on conquering nature, the East-
ern approach has been characterized by respect for the
rhythms, processes, and phenomena of the natural world
(Lai 2001, Xianlin etal. 2001).
Anexample of the latter approach can be found in the work
of Daisaku Ikeda, who is a Buddhist philosopher, author,
and president of Soka Gakkai International, a nongovern-
mental organization and lay Buddhist association with more
than 12 millionmembersaround the world. Ikeda’s approach
provides a bridge between Eastern and Western thought that
is a valuable contribution to environmental philosophy.
Ikeda’s philosophy is based on Buddhist thought, central
to which is the concept of dependent origination (also called
dependent co-arising). The doctrine of dependent origina-
tion expresses the interdependence of all things, meaning
that beings or phenomena cannot exist on their own, but ex-
ist or occur because of their relationship with other beings and
phenomena. In this view, everything in the world comes into
existence in response to internal causes and external condi-
tions; in other words, nothing can exist independent of other
things or arise in isolation. As Ikeda explains in “Dialogues
on Eastern Religion”(Xianlin et al. 2001),“According to this
view, when one particular cause or set of causes exists then
a certain result comes about; when one entity comes into be-
ing, so does another entity” (p. 9).
This concept of dependent origination is compatible with
the biological concept of symbiosis. Each human being ex-
ists within the context of interrelationships that include not
only other human beings but all living beings and the natural
world. Interestingly, Ikeda does not consider this relationship
as one-sided (i.e., human beings depend on the natural en-
vironment in order to flourish), but as a mutual relationship
of interdependence. To give a better understanding of this idea,
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Ikeda explains that according to Buddhist ontology life can
bedescribed in terms of 10 factors (Ikeda 1994). The first three
factors—appearance, nature,and entity—describe life from
astatic perspective; the next six—power, influence, internal
cause, external cause, latent effect, and manifest effect—de-
scribe the dynamic functions of life. Power and influence re-
fer, respectively, to life’s inherent capacity to act and to the
action that is produced when this inherent power is acti-
vated. Internal cause, external cause, latent effect, and man-
ifest effect describe how causality links each phenomenon to
its environment. Each individual phenomenon contains an
internal, latent cause or disposition,which simultaneously con-
tains a latent effect. In the right conditions, this latent inter-
nal cause is activated or triggered. External cause thus provides
the link between the individual phenomenon and its sur-
roundings. The external conditions cause a change in the in-
ternal cause, which in turn results in a change of the latent
effect. The manifest effect is the physical result of the action,
which arises as a result of the internal cause. Thus the indi-
vidual and the external world are interlinked through a net-
work of causality. Internal cause and latent effect are
simultaneous; the one is contained in the other. The mani-
fest effect, however, often appears later in time.The 10th fac-
tor,consistency from beginning to end,refers to the integration
of all factors. They are not in themselves separate but are all
different aspects ofthe same phenomenon. If we consider the
first threefactors as referring to entity and the remaining fac-
tors as referring to the function of this entity,“consistency from
beginning to end” refers to the unity of an entity and its
function; theyare inseparable (Ikeda 1994).
The 10 factors together represent the oneness of the ma-
terial and the spiritual aspectof life. Appearance represents
the physical,nature the spiritual aspect of life; internal cause
and latent effect refer to the spiritual, because they lie dormant
within life; manifest effect, on the other hand, is perceivable
in the physical world and thus refers to the material aspect of
life. Thus, unlike Western thought, which is underpinned by
the dualism of mind and body, Ikeda’s philosophy is in-
formed by the “non-dualities” of Buddhist thought: that is,
the oneness of body and mind; the oneness of the internal and
the external; the oneness of cause and effect; and the oneness
of life and its environment (Ikeda 1994).
The idea of the oneness of life and its environment is of par-
ticular interest to environmental ethics.As used by Ikeda,the
term environment does not denote the whole natural world;
rather, it refers to the fact that each living being has its own
unique environment.“In this sense, the formation of one’s en-
vironment coincides with that person’s birth into this world”
(Ikeda 1994, p.144). Thus, on the most fundamental level, life
and environment, sentient beings and nonsentient beings,are
inseparable (Ikeda 1994). Ikeda explains the Japanese term for
this concept, esho funi, as follows: sho is short for shoho,
which refers to the individual life; estands for eho, the envi-
ronment, which supports the individual. Funi means “two but
not two,referring to the impossibility of separating the two,
individual and environment. The individual life influences its
environment but at the same time is dependent on it (Toyn-
bee and Ikeda 1982). To explain, Ikeda uses the analogy of a
body and its shadow: The body creates the shadow, and when
the body moves, the shadow changes. But in a sense the
shadow also creates the body, because the absence of the
shadow means that there is no bodily form. Similarly, the in-
dividual receives form and identity through the environ-
ment, and vice versa (Ikeda 1982).The functioning of internal
cause, latent effect, external cause, and manifest effect forms
an intricate network of relationships between the individual
and its surroundings. The manifest effect produced by the fac-
tors of internal cause, external condition, and latent effect is
exhibited both in the individual life and in its environment.
As human beings, we shape our environment,but we are
also products of our environment. According to Ikeda, this dia-
lectic is vital for understanding the interrelationships be-
tween human existence and the environment. Because
individual life and environment are inseparable, the state of
the environment is a reflection of the minds of the people who
inhabit it. Environmental degradation is thus a reflection of
people’s ignorance of the true nature of life and the cosmos:
the interrelatedness of all things. Actions based on ignorance
of the interrelatedness of all phenomena result in a downward
spiral of negativity. It gives rise to greed,which drives people
to seek the fulfillment of their desires at the cost of others and
to seek the destruction of a situation in which their own de-
sires are frustrated. This greed goes beyond the individual level,
creating economic disparities between people and countries
on a global scale. The avarice of the industrialized nations has
deprived people in developing countries of the conditions by
whichtheir basic needs can be met, and the greed of the hu-
man race is undermining the right of other living beings to
exist. Awareness of the fabric of relatedness, on the other
hand, gives rise to the desire for mutually supportive coexis-
tence with others and with the natural environment.
Ikeda explains that this dialectic relationship between
human beings and the environment means that humans
must maintain the supporting energy of the environment. Life
cannot flourish in an environment that is altered without
maintaining its supporting energy, just as food that is eaten
withoutdigesting it does not nourish a body (Ikeda 1982).
And if we wish to describe the mutual relations that
exist betweenhuman beings and the environment in
these terms, we would say that the living self depends
upon the environment for its existence. That is, human
beings depend on the workings of the environment or
natural ecological conditions for their growth and
development. And conversely, as indicated by the state-
ment above that “without life there is no environment,
the environment must wait for the activities of human
beings in order to take on a particular shape or undergo
changes. Human beings thus play a key role in the cre-
ation of a particular environment, and must bear the
responsibility for such creation. (Xianlin et al. 2001,
p.19)
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This is not to say that the natural world does not exist inde-
pendent of human beings, but that the environment of each
individual is as much a product of the actions of the individual
as the individual is a product of its environment.
According to Ikeda, dependent origination, the inter-
dependency of all things and all phenomena, manifests the
ordering principle of the cosmos. The failure to recognize the
interdependence and interrelatedness of all life is a funda-
mental delusion, leading to a self-destructive egocentrism
that severs the strands of the web of life that support one’s own
existence.Awareness of the interrelated nature of life, on the
other hand, enables a person to overcome instinctive self-love
in order to maintain an empathic relationship with others (i.e.,
other people, other living beings, and nature).
Conclusion
The challenge for environmental ethics is to find a solid ra-
tional justification for why nature should be protected from
human actions. Arguments that stress the instrumental value
otherspecies have for humans provide “practical muscle for
conservation where it counts, on the ground”(Myers 1979a).
However, arguments based on instrumental value imply that
it is the conservationist’s responsibility to prove that such value
exists. Although the conservation of nature in general is
widely considered valuable, conservationists find that in prac-
ticethey have to fight the same battles again and again to pro-
tect wild species from harm. There is a perceived need to
express the value of wild species in objectively measurable eco-
nomic terms that can be employedas incentives for wildlife
conservation or as arguments against land uses that are harm-
ful towildlife. This assumption is underpinned by a negative
view of humanity, in that it assumes that people in themselves
willnot conserve nature unless it is clearly to their direct
benefit. Humans and nature are seen as being in profound con-
flict with each other. The concept of the wildlife conservationist
is that of a resource manager whose job is to manage natural
resources for the benefit of people, but who is fighting an on-
going battle to prove the value of this work.
The existence of intrinsic value in nature, on the other hand,
would free conservationists of the obligation to prove that
there is value in conserving a particular species. Although it
is generally accepted that human life is intrinsically valuable,
the possibility of intrinsic value in nonhuman life forms a large
part of the environmental ethics debate. Extensionist ap-
proaches, which aim to define moral criteria on which such
value can be based, are problematic for wildlife managers be-
cause theyconsider individual organisms, not species and
ecosystems. By drawing directly from ecological concepts
rather than from a human-centered frame of reference,
philosophers such as Leopold, Rolston, and others call for a
rethinking of our moral framework. Nonetheless, biocen-
tric approaches to environmental ethics can be seen as im-
plying the prioritization of nonhuman life over human life,
thus sharpening the dichotomy between humans and the
natural environment. The human-versus-nature dualism
that underpins both the instrumental and the intrinsic value
approaches is unhelpful to wildlife conservation and man-
agement, which are concerned with balancing both social
and environmental goals.
It is not surprising that the endeavor of providing a ratio-
nal ethical foundation for conservation is proving difficult,
considering that the Western worldview, which has become
increasingly influential on a global scale, has for centuries seen
the conquest and subjection of nature as its greatest challenge.
In contrast, the traditional Eastern view sees humanity as part
of nature, not as a rival (Ikeda 1994, p. 144). Ikeda suggests
that the differing attitudes toward nature may be grounded
in the differences between the Eastern and Western views of
life itself.
In the tradition of Buddhist thought, Ikeda’s exposition of
the theories of dependent origination and the oneness of
life and its environment transcends the man–nature dualism.
This approach provides a bridge between environmental
ethics and the resolution of practical environmental problems.
Ikeda’s work does not in itself constitute an environmental
ethic. However, the concepts of dependent origination and the
oneness oflifeand environment provide an ample platform
for developing such an ethic. To Ikeda, ethics are not a mat-
ter of timeless rules that can beapplied to particular situations.
Rather,ethics depend on a sensitivity toward the principle of
dependent origination. Consequently, Ikeda’s aim is not the
development ofan abstract theory but rather the empower-
ment of the individual to lead “a contributive way of life...based
onan awareness of the interdependent nature of our lives—
of the relationships that link us toothers and our environ-
ment(Ikeda 2002).
The modern conservation paradigm, conservation for and
with people, requires that we overcome the dualism of human
versus nature, which creates antagonism between conser-
vationists and other people. Ikeda’s philosophy provides a
basis for a conservation philosophy that sees the conserva-
tionist not as a defender of the natural world against the
harmful impact of human actions but as one who realizes the
interdependences both between people and between people
and nature, and who strives to awaken such awareness in
others in order to achieve a better future for all.
Acknowledgments
Tim Dunne, Les Underhill, David Benatar, John Paterson, and
Liz Komen read earlier drafts of this paper.
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... La biología de la conservación emerge en este contexto como una nueva etapa en la aplicación científica, que se preocupa por desarrollar estrategias para abordar problemáticas ecológicas como la pérdida de biodiversidad o la introducción de especies exóticas (Soulé, 1985;Klier, 2018). Los discursos provenientes de la conservación biológica se basan tácitamente en sistemas de argumentación como el utilitarismo y el deontologismo 4 (Primack, Rozzi, Freinsinger, Dirzo & Massardo, 2001;Klier, 2018), y sus prácticas se fundamentan por lo general en tres posiciones éticas: instrumentalismo, extensionismo y biocentrismo (Paterson, 2006). ...
... El instrumentalismo se pregunta por el fin que se obtiene al conservar tal o cual ecosistema o especie. Considera el valor económico o científico en cuestión, y toma como criterio los intereses de los seres humanos Paterson, 2006). El extensionismo aboga por la consideración moral y la conservación de individuos similares a los seres humanos, en especial aquellos con capacidad de sentir y razonar (Paterson, 2006). ...
... Considera el valor económico o científico en cuestión, y toma como criterio los intereses de los seres humanos Paterson, 2006). El extensionismo aboga por la consideración moral y la conservación de individuos similares a los seres humanos, en especial aquellos con capacidad de sentir y razonar (Paterson, 2006). El biocentrismo, por su parte, concede valor intrínseco a las interacciones ecosistémicas y a los individuos biológicos, más allá de si representan o no de elementos de utilidad para los seres humanos Vucetich et al., 2019;Snyder, 2017). ...
Thesis
La biología de la conservación se desarrolla a partir de fundamentos éticos que suelen ser ignorados por los propios científicos y conservacionistas. Se ha reconocido, sin embargo, que la explicitación de tales fundamentos éticos podría fortalecer la integración socioecológica y la incidencia a largo plazo de los proyectos de conservación que se desarrollan. Con el objetivo de profundizar en este tema, inexplorado hasta ahora en Costa Rica, se analizó los discursos de cinco organizaciones no gubernamentales (ONG) que trabajan en la conservación de jaguares (Panthera onca). Los discursos de cada ONG se recolectaron por medio de entrevistas semiestructuradas a miembros claves e investigaciones documentales de sus páginas web. El análisis de los datos se llevó a cabo a partir del enfoque metodológico de la teoría fundamentada, desde el cual se buscó inducir información proveniente de los propios discursos obtenidos, y no de supuestos teóricos previos. Los resultados obtenidos sugieren que las prácticas de conservación en estas ONG giran en torno a tres fundamentos éticos: la solidaridad, la justicia y la objetividad científica. Por medio de la solidaridad se reconoce la importancia de generar consensos comunitarios e intersectoriales que reconozcan los intereses en común vinculados a la protección de jaguares y su fauna silvestre asociada. A través de la justicia se evidencia la urgencia de mitigar la exclusión política y socioeconómica que enfrentan las comunidades rurales que cohabitan con jaguares y otros felinos silvestres. Mediante la objetividad científica se resalta la necesidad de ampliar los conocimientos científicos sobre la ecología y conservación de las poblaciones de jaguares y sus especies presa en el país. Con base en estos resultados, se recomienda implementar herramientas alternativas de comunicación que resalten las similitudes éticas entre las ONG y los habitantes de las comunidades; se insta a implementar nociones ecologizadas de justicia que reclamen los derechos y valores intrínsecos de la naturaleza; y se resalta la pertinencia ética de integrar conocimientos locales e interculturales en los discursos y proyectos de conservación que se desarrollan. A manera de discusión, se expone tres temáticas socioecológicas que se interrelacionan con los fundamentos éticos encontrados: la seguridad alimentaria, el ecoturismo y la subjetividad animal. En específico, se evidencia algunas repercusiones socioecológicas del consumo de derivados animales y su vinculación con la conservación de jaguares; se presenta propuestas ecoturísticas en pro de la conservación de estos felinos y de su fauna silvestre asociada; y se plantea que la consideración explicita de la subjetividad de los animales puede contribuir a robustecer los esfuerzos que se realizan para conservarlos. Se concluye que las ONG estudiadas parten de fundamentos éticos utilitaristas y antropocéntricos que enfatizan los beneficios que se obtiene a través de la conservación de jaguares. Se sostiene que estos fundamentos éticos limitan la posibilidad de transformar las estructuras sociopolíticas causantes del actual deterioro socioecológico, por lo que se recomienda su replanteamiento a partir de perspectivas biocéntricas que faciliten el reconocimiento del valor intrínseco de la vida silvestre. Palabras clave: ética, biología de la conservación, conflictos, jaguar, panthera onca, fauna silvestre
... La biología de la conservación emerge en este contexto como una nueva etapa en la aplicación científica, que se preocupa por desarrollar estrategias para abordar problemáticas ecológicas como la pérdida de biodiversidad o la introducción de especies exóticas (Soulé, 1985;Klier, 2018). Los discursos provenientes de la conservación biológica se basan tácitamente en sistemas de argumentación como el utilitarismo y el deontologismo 4 (Primack, Rozzi, Freinsinger, Dirzo & Massardo, 2001;Klier, 2018), y sus prácticas se fundamentan por lo general en tres posiciones éticas: instrumentalismo, extensionismo y biocentrismo (Paterson, 2006). ...
... El instrumentalismo se pregunta por el fin que se obtiene al conservar tal o cual ecosistema o especie. Considera el valor económico o científico en cuestión, y toma como criterio los intereses de los seres humanos Paterson, 2006). El extensionismo aboga por la consideración moral y la conservación de individuos similares a los seres humanos, en especial aquellos con capacidad de sentir y razonar (Paterson, 2006). ...
... Considera el valor económico o científico en cuestión, y toma como criterio los intereses de los seres humanos Paterson, 2006). El extensionismo aboga por la consideración moral y la conservación de individuos similares a los seres humanos, en especial aquellos con capacidad de sentir y razonar (Paterson, 2006). El biocentrismo, por su parte, concede valor intrínseco a las interacciones ecosistémicas y a los individuos biológicos, más allá de si representan o no de elementos de utilidad para los seres humanos Vucetich et al., 2019;Snyder, 2017). ...
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Full-text available
Resumen La biología de la conservación se desarrolla a partir de fundamentos éticos que suelen ser ignorados por los propios científicos y conservacionistas. Se ha reconocido, sin embargo, que la explicitación de tales fundamentos éticos podría fortalecer la integración socioecológica y la incidencia a largo plazo de los proyectos de conservación que se desarrollan. Con el objetivo de profundizar en este tema, inexplorado hasta ahora en Costa Rica, se analizó los discursos de cinco organizaciones no gubernamentales (ONG) que trabajan en la conservación de jaguares (Panthera onca). Los discursos de cada ONG se recolectaron por medio de entrevistas semiestructuradas a miembros claves e investigaciones documentales de sus páginas web. El análisis de los datos se llevó a cabo a partir del enfoque metodológico de la teoría fundamentada, desde el cual se buscó inducir información proveniente de los propios discursos obtenidos, y no de supuestos teóricos previos. Los resultados obtenidos sugieren que las prácticas de conservación en estas ONG giran en torno a tres fundamentos éticos: la solidaridad, la justicia y la objetividad científica. Por medio de la solidaridad se reconoce la importancia de generar consensos comunitarios e intersectoriales que reconozcan los intereses en común vinculados a la protección de jaguares y su fauna silvestre asociada. A través de la justicia se evidencia la urgencia de mitigar la exclusión política y socioeconómica que enfrentan las comunidades rurales que cohabitan con jaguares y otros felinos silvestres. Mediante la objetividad científica se resalta la necesidad de ampliar los conocimientos científicos sobre la ecología y conservación de las poblaciones de jaguares y sus especies presa en el país. Con base en estos resultados, se recomienda implementar herramientas alternativas de comunicación que resalten las similitudes éticas entre las ONG y los habitantes de las comunidades; se insta a implementar nociones ecologizadas de justicia que reclamen los derechos y valores intrínsecos de la naturaleza; y se resalta la pertinencia ética de integrar conocimientos locales e interculturales en los discursos y proyectos de conservación que se desarrollan. A manera de discusión, se expone tres temáticas socioecológicas que se interrelacionan con los fundamentos éticos encontrados: la seguridad alimentaria, el ecoturismo y la subjetividad animal. En específico, se evidencia algunas repercusiones socioecológicas del consumo de derivados animales y su vinculación con la conservación de jaguares; se presenta propuestas ecoturísticas en pro de la conservación de estos felinos y de su fauna silvestre asociada; y se plantea que la consideración explicita de la subjetividad de los animales puede contribuir a robustecer los esfuerzos que se realizan para conservarlos. Se concluye que las ONG estudiadas parten de fundamentos éticos utilitaristas y antropocéntricos que enfatizan los beneficios que se obtiene a través de la conservación de jaguares. Se sostiene que estos fundamentos éticos limitan la posibilidad de transformar las estructuras sociopolíticas causantes del actual deterioro socioecológico, por lo que se recomienda su replanteamiento a partir de perspectivas biocéntricas que faciliten el reconocimiento del valor intrínseco de la vida silvestre. Palabras clave: ética, biología de la conservación, conflictos, jaguar, panthera onca, fauna silvestre
... The difference between our themes of consuming/use and valuing an individual animal can also be compared to Paterson's (2006) categorization of instrumental values and the extensionist approach. Consuming/use means that the animals' derivatives have worth, which is referred to as an instrumental value in the environmental ethics literature. ...
Article
Public uproar regarding deer culling in Ingham County illustrate that strong opinions toward wildlife exist. As development pushes human communities into wildlife habitats, human-wildlife interactions continue to increase within these shared spaces. While most of the sociological studies to date focus on the negative perceptions of interactions, we hypothesize that there are perceptions of wildlife beyond human-wildlife conflict that are not currently found in the literature. Management decisions, similarly, reflect a conflict focus, responding to what are often the loudest voices in the community. Our research evaluates overall wildlife perceptions in Ingham County, Michigan, uncovering those perceptions often un-heard in wildlife management. Employing a multi-method approach, including observations, participant observations, personal meaning maps, and stories, we identify eight themes that capture the diverse perceptions of wildlife in this region. We find that non-conflict themes, such as coexistence, ecological experiences and valuing an individual animal, were not only prevalent, but add a significant dimension to understanding and managing human relationships with wild animals.
... Therefore, the burden rests on sustainability scientists, environmental managers, ecologists, and conservationists to work across disciplines to help to shift these perspectives. Otherwise, without a new set of values, we could see a worsening of the ecological crisis that threatens our life on Earth [51,75]. This shift in perspectives must include closing the gap between 'nature' and humans to achieve a more interconnected and holistic perspective. ...
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Empirical research that inductively investigates lay conceptions of ‘nature’ is scarce, despite global environmental narratives around sustainability calling for humans to have harmonious relationships with ‘nature’. This paper presents inductive research that attends to the empirical knowledge gap by exploring how respondents self-reportedly conceive ‘nature’ using Auckland, New Zealand as a case study. Results suggested that conceptions of ‘nature’ within the respondent group are diverse and range across 17 themes. Most commonly, respondents conceived ‘nature’ as being something that neither humans nor human influence or activities are a part of. This finding is consistent with what has been found by previous deductive research approaches to understanding conceptions of ‘nature’. However, this research provides a deeper understanding by identifying that respondents form associations with over 60 ‘aspects’ of ‘nature’. By highlighting the complexity of ‘nature’ from a human perspective and being able to identify significant components of ‘nature’ that people associate with, this study not only provides valuable insight for environmental management in the New Zealand study site, but also has potential to support improved management of human–nature interactions that can have a more targeted impact towards achieving sustainability goals at the global scale.
... Managing wetlands in the Anthropocene, with humanmediated transformations, requires analytical approaches that consider integrated systems of human and nature as a unit of analysis (Berkes 2017), overcoming the human-nature dualism, which has hitherto underpinned conservation approaches (Paterson 2006;Linnell et al. 2015). There is an emerging scholarship that encourages a coupled view of ecological and social systems (Schoon and van der Leeuw 2015), whereby they are neither socio-ecological (humans embedded in ecological systems), nor eco-social (ecological systems embedded within human systems; Westley et al. 2002). ...
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Ecological character and wise use are central tenets underpinning the Ramsar Convention’s global wetland ambitions. In this paper, we postulate that, given on-going and progressive degradation and destruction of wetlands, these concepts require reframing. So as to overcome the human–nature dualism, which underpins current wetland conservation, we propose that wetlands need to be placed within a social–ecological framing that can accommodate a plurality of worldviews and value systems. This reframing broadens the definition of wetland ecological character and replaces it with a more inclusive and comprehensive term ‘wetland character’. Wise use, consequently, becomes maintenance of wetland character. Further considerations on maintaining wetland character under this construct are presented.
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Virtual reality (VR) as a communication tool is increasingly gaining attention in various contexts, including the promotion of fundraising and donation‐based activities. Recent academic literature tends to focus on VR as a valuable tool for human‐human donation, with little consideration of the human‐animal donation context. Furthermore, the use of key flagship species can encourage donations for the specific animal and provide broader conservation and economic benefits, including encouraging tourism and visitor spending. However, work needs to explore VR as a tool for flagship species donation versus other forms of communication tools and the impact this could have on broader conservation goals. Two studies were conducted to investigate VR in a human‐animal donation context using two modalities (VR and static advertisement). Study 1 investigates the mediating role of psychological elements: empathy and enjoyment, while Study 2 examines the mediating role of technological elements of VR: usability and telepresence. We found that VR increases enjoyment and engagement with the flagship species, increasing the likelihood of donating. VR also increases telepresence, and the usability of the VR tool positively affects donors' likelihood to donate. Our findings inform a future research agenda to consider VR in a donation context further.
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Domestic and captive animals and cultivated plants should be recognised as integral components in contemporary ecosystems. They interact with wild organisms through such mechanisms as hybridization, predation, herbivory, competition and disease transmission and, in many cases, define ecosystem properties. Nevertheless, it is widespread practice for data on domestic, captive and cultivated organisms to be excluded from biodiversity repositories, such as natural history collections. Furthermore, there is a lack of integration of data collected about biodiversity in disciplines, such as agriculture, veterinary science, epidemiology and invasion science. Discipline-specific data are often intentionally excluded from integrative databases in order to maintain the “purity” of data on natural processes. Rather than being beneficial, we argue that this practise of data exclusivity greatly limits the utility of discipline-specific data for applications ranging from agricultural pest management to invasion biology, infectious disease prevention and community ecology. This problem can be resolved by data providers using standards to indicate whether the observed organism is of wild or domestic origin and by integrating their data with other biodiversity data (e.g. in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility). Doing so will enable efforts to integrate the full panorama of biodiversity knowledge across related disciplines to tackle pressing societal questions.
Thesis
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This thesis investigates the potential and challenges of Buddhism in informing organisations’ pursuit of sustainability. Buddhism is argued to enable possibilities for sustainability on a more systemic and spiritual level than a view of economic rationality that tends towards an entity and a materialistic focus. With a predominantly Buddhist population base, Sri Lanka is the research context for the main empirical work presented in this thesis. Four related investigations are described below. The first investigation is a systematic review of the literature pertaining to Buddhism, sustainability and organisational studies. The review identifies a set of Buddhist principles and values appearing in this literature, defines research gaps, and delineates avenues for future research. The second investigation examines whether Buddhism is evident in corporate sustainability practices by analysing sixteen sustainability reports of award-winning companies. Little evidence of Buddhist principles and values was found in these reports which explicitly embrace global standards. The highly institutionalised sustainability reporting practice in Sri Lanka is argued to create a disconnect between Buddhism as a prevalent cultural tradition and corporate representations. The third investigation explores how Sri Lankan sustainability managers make sense of sustainability and how they see themselves as able to enact their private moral positions at work. Interviews with 25 sustainability managers reveals that Buddhist values that shaped managers’ private moral positions on sustainability tend not to be reflected in their workplaces. Typically, a measure-and-manage approach to sustainability prevails. Managers’ enacted morality was found to be based on economic prioritisation within their organisations, and the perceived importance of a secular view. Actual enactment of Buddhism in organisations was found to be problematic. The fourth investigation examines how Sri Lankan organisations with an openly Buddhist ethos perceive and pursue sustainability. Interviews and documentary evidence from two not-for-profit and two for-profit organisations self-identifying as Buddhist are analysed. Buddhist leaders are prominent in all four organisations. A more spiritual, systemic, and holistic approach to sustainability was found in the not-for-profits whereas the for-profits tended towards a stronger entity focus with a more managerially-oriented approach, engaging in symbolic actions in the application of Buddhism. From these investigations a key set of implications for practitioners is identified. Overall, the thesis signals that although Buddhism has potential in informing sustainability at a conceptual level, its application is complex and challenging for business organisations except for in rare cases, even in a predominantly Buddhist country-context. Academic contributions of the thesis include a multi-level and multidimensional approach to investigating Buddhism’s influence in organisations’ pursuit of sustainability, identification of specific challenges, and expansion of possible alternative interpretations of Buddhism. Practice contributions include the insight that tensions that might arise in the explicit recognition of Buddhism in mainstream organisations might be partially overcome by appeal to universal sustainability principles and values. The thesis also elaborates which Buddhist principles and values appear to have most traction in the organisational context.
Chapter
Ethics and values have been foundational to conservation biology as a mission-driven discipline dedicated to a moral imperative –preserving global biodiversity. Value-based policies limit conservation success more than biological knowledge, so conservation biologists must establish the intrinsic value of nature in conservation efforts. Many conservationists have employed moral extensionism – the application of mortal standing to non-human entities – to establish nature’s value, expressed through positions based on Biophilia, Deep Ecology, the Land Ethic, Animal Rights, and others. In contrast, religious traditions establish intrinsic value through divine revelation, providing powerful arguments for biodiversity conservation expressed in a proliferation of faith-based organizations (FBOs) in conservation. Using these and other sources, conservationists must mature in their expression of ethical reasons for saving biodiversity to make conservation goals culturally persuasive
Chapter
Introduction: choosing among non-speciesist ethicsThe traditional viewGoing beyond the species barrierIs there intrinsic value beyond sentience?Practical problems
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The first part of this study is devoted to analysing the prevailing western ethical systems and to a comparison of them with a conception of a new environmental ethics. The author here, with reference to J. Passmore, divides the western approach into a "dominant tradition", in which man conducts himself with regard to the things of nature, and to nature itself, as a tyrannical ruler, and the less widespread tradition of man as superintendent (or supervisor), and man as perfecter. According to Sylvan, environmental ethics is in conflict with each of these conceptions.The second part of Sylvan's text introduces thought-experiments which demonstrate the inconsistency of the environmental tradition of western ethics based on (human) chauvinism. First of he introduces the thought-experiment of "the last man" and then the thought-experiment of "the last people", "the great businessman" and "the disappearing species".The third part of Sylvan's text then briefly considers the possible consequences connected with the acceptance of an environmentally-ethical attitude. This brings with it, in Sylvan's view, changes to one's ethical conception and changes to metaethics. New concepts are needed to treat old and new realities; a fundamental change in perspective is required.
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Environmental forensics has emerged as an important area of environmental studies over the past two decades. There are two basic aspects to any environmental investigation. The first being a conventional approach where the standard EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) methods are used to determine concentrations of selected compounds released into the environment. These methods are extremely well documented and widely used, but only provide information on specific target compounds. Whilst this information may be useful for monitoring purposes it is of little use when trying to determine the source of a spill or contaminants in the environment. If the purpose of an investigation is to determine the source of a contaminant, or point of release, then it is necessary to use a wide variety of analytical techniques and integrate all of the resulting data into one comprehensive data set. It may not always be possible to obtain a unique answer, particularly in the case of groundwater contaminants where there might only be one compound, for example MTBE or PCE. In that case if there are multiple possible sources in the area it may be difficult to narrow it down to a specific source. Furthermore fingerprinting tools that may be useful with complex mixtures may not be directly applicable to single component mixtures. The purpose of this paper will be to provide a brief overview, along with some recent examples of the type of information that is typically obtained in an environmental forensic investigation and how this information may be interpreted. It should be noted that all these examples are related to organic contaminants in the environment since that is the major area of focus at this time. Examples will involve hydrocarbons, chlorinated solvents, and MTBE and BTEX compounds. Techniques will include gas chromatography (GC), gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCMS), stable isotopes both bulk and gas chromatography-isotope ratio mass spectrometry (GCIRMS). There are other techniques being used but in a paper of this length we will limit ourselves to these widely used techniques and those applications mentioned above since space does not permit a comprehensive review of all of them.
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hungry,people versus nature is perhaps,artificial. If too far abstract­ 248 249 Holmes Rolston III ed from the complex circumstances of decision, we may not be fac­ ing any serlous operational issue. When we have simplified the ques­
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First published in 1949 and praised in The New York Times Book Review as "a trenchant book, full of vigor and bite," A Sand County Almanac combines some of the finest nature writing since Thoreau with an outspoken and highly ethical regard for America's relationship to the land. Written with an unparalleled understanding of the ways of nature, the book includes a section on the monthly changes of the Wisconsin countryside; another part that gathers informal pieces written by Leopold over a forty-year period as he traveled through the woodlands of Wisconsin, Iowa, Arizona, Sonora, Oregon, Manitoba, and elsewhere; and a final section in which Leopold addresses the philosophical issues involved in wildlife conservation. As the forerunner of such important books as Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek , Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire , and Robert Finch's The Primal Place , this classic work remains as relevant today as it was forty years ago.
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Aldo Leopold's approach to environmental management changed drastically between the early 1920s, when he advocated predator eradication, and 1944, when he drafted “Thinking Like a Mountain.” How are we to understand these changes?It is shown that, early in his career, Leopold developed the basic elements of a conservation ethic, borrowing key elements from the Russian organicist P. D. Ouspensky and from A. T. Hadley, an American pragmatist who was president of Yale University when Leopold was a student there. Hadley's pragmatism counseled that we act on the wisdom embodied in the intuitive perceptions of our forefathers. While Leopold changed the presentation of his conservation ethic over the years, he never gave up these key ideas, traces of which remain in the final version of “The Land Ethic.”The changes in Leopold's management strategies were not due to a change in metaphysical or moral views, but to his evolving experience as a forester and game manager. Leopold learned that “violent” strategies, such as monocultural planting of trees, pervasive agricultural management of fragile ecosystems and, above all predator eradication, led to unforeseen and unwelcome results. Leopold recognized that we may never have adequate information to manipulate natural systems for maximal human utility without diminishing their vitality. He therefore lost faith in “economic biology” as a guide to environmental management.Leopold's changing views on management resulted from his experience as an environmental manager, not from a conversion from utilitarian anthropocentrism to biocentric nonanthropocentrism. While Leopold was drawn to Ouspensky's organicism, and he hoped Americans would through a profound change in their perceptions of nature adopt such a view eventually, he believed throughout his career that longsighted anthropocentrism provides an adequate basis for conservation practices.Resumen: El enfoque de manejo ambiental de Aldo Leopold cambió drásticamente alrededor del comienzo de 10s años 20, cuando abogaba por la erradicación de animales depredadores, y en 1944, cuando produjo “Pensando como una montaña”¿Cómo vamos a entender estos cambios?Es evidente que, temprano en su carrera, Leopold desarrolló los elementos básicos de una ética conservacionista, tomando elementos claves del organicista ruso Ouspensky y de A.T. Hadley, un norteamericano pragmático, quien fue Presidente de la Universidad de Yale cuando Leopold era un estudiante en la misma El pragmatismo de Hadley sugería que los seres humanos actuamos basados en la sabiduría expresada en las percepciones intuitivas de nuestros antepasados. Aunque Leopold cambió la presentación de su ética conservacionista con el pasar de los años, nunca renunció a estas ideas claves, de las cuales aún quedan vestigios en la version final de “La Etica de la Tierra”.Los cambios ocurridos en las estategias de manejo de Leopold no fueron debidos a un cambio de punto de vista metafísico o moral, sino a su experiencia evolutiva como forestal y manejador de fauna. Leopold aprendió que las estrategias “violentas”, tales como el monocultivo de árboles, el manejo agrícola extenso en ecositemas frágiles y, sobre todo, la erradicación de animales depredadores, conducían a resultados imprevistos e inoportunos. Leopold reconoció que quizás nunca tengamos la información adecuada para manipular los sistemas naturales para la utilidad máxima de los seres humanos sin disminuir su vitalidad Por consiguiente, perdió la fe en la “biología económica” como una guía para el manejo ambiental.Los puntos de vista de Leopold con respecto al manejo ambiental son el resultado de su experiencia como director ambiental, y no de una converseón del antropocentrismo utilitario al no-antropocentrismo biocéntrico. Mientras Leopold fue atraído hacia el organicismo de Ouspensky, y esperaba que 10s norteamericanos, mediante un cambio pro fundo en sus percepciones con respecto a la naturaleza, adoptaran eventualmente dichas ideas, él creyó, a lo largo detoda su carrera, que el antropocentrismo de larga visión provee una base adecuada para las prácticas conservacionistas.
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The medieval backgroundThe emergence of modern scienceMaterialism and dualismEmpirical philosophies of natureRationalist philosophy of natureEmpires, naturism, and fideism