Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Save to My Library
Look up keyword
Like this
2Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Duties to Endangered Species

Duties to Endangered Species

Ratings: (0)|Views: 31 |Likes:

More info:

Published by: Center for Respect of Life and Environment on Nov 13, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

09/28/2012

pdf

text

original

 
Encyclopedia
of
Environmental
Biology,
vol.
1
(Academic
Press,
1995),
pp.
517-528
Duties
to
EndangeredSpecies
Holmes
Rolston
III
ColoradoStateUniversity
I.
EthicalDutiesandBiologicalSpecies
II.
TheThreat
of
Extinction
III.
Questions
of
Fact:
What
AreSpecies?
IV.
Questions
of
Duty:OughtSpecies
Be
Saved?V.Species
in
Ecosystems
VI.
NaturalandHuman-CausedExtinctions
VII.
RespectforRareLife
Whetherhumanshaveduties
to
endangeredspeciesisasignificanttheoreticalandurgentpracticalquestion.Fewpersonsdoubtthatwehavesomeobligations
concerning
endangeredspecies,becausepersonsarehelpedorhurtbythecondition
of
theirenvironment,whichincludesawealth
of
wildspecies,currentlyunderalarmingthreat
of
extinction.TheU.S.Congress,deploringthelack
of
"adequateconcern[for]andconservation[of]"species,hassought
to
protectspeciesthroughtheEndangeredSpeciesAct.CongresshasalsoenteredintoaConventiononInternationalTradeinEndangeredSpecies.TheUnitedNationshasnegotiatedaBiodiversityConvention,signed
by
over100nations.Takingorjeopardizingendangeredspecies(atleastthelistedones)isillegaland,manythink,immoral.Butthesemightbeallobligationstopersonswhoarebenefitedorharmed
by
species
as
resources.Isthereahumandutydirectly
to
species,inadditiontoobligationsthathumanshavetootherhumans,fellowmembersoftheirownspecies?Thiswouldbepart
of
aninterspecificenvironmentalethics,andinvolvesachallengingmix
of
scienceandconscience.Ananswerisvitaltothemorecomprehensivequestion
ofthe
conservation
of
biodiversity,howhumanscanachieveasustainablerelationship
to
thenaturalworld
..
I.
ETHICAL
DUTIESAND
BIOLOGICAL
SPECIES
Arationaleforsavingspeciesthatcentersontheirworthtohumansisanthropocentric,inwhichspecieshaveinstrumentalvalues;arationalethatincludestheirintrinsicandecosystemicvalues,thosevaluestheymayhaveinthemselvesorintheirfunctionsinecosystems,inadditiontoorindependently
of
persons,isnaturalistic.Somesaytherearenodutiestoendangeredspecies,onlyduties
to
persons.Thepreservation
of
species,bytheusualutilitarianaccount,iscommendedonlyinsofar
as
humanbeingshaveormighthaveinterestsatstake.Thisincludesduties
to
futurehumanbeings,dutiesderivedfromourstewardshiproleaskeepers
of
theplanetforlaterpeople.Anydutiesconcerningspecieswillthenbeamatter
of
findingoutwhateverhumanvaluesareatstakewiththeloss
of
speciesand
of
applyingclassicalduties
to
persons
to
protectthesevalues.[SeeMASS
 
humans,whenout
of
asense
of
dutyanindividualdeferstothevalues
of
fellowhumans.Butitistrueinterspecifically,since,underthisrationale,Homosapienstreatsallotherspeciesas"rivets,"resources,studymaterials,orentertainment.Ethicshasalwaysbeenaboutpartnerswithentwineddestinies.Butithasneverbeenveryconvincingwhenpleadedasenlightenedselfinterest(thatoneshouldalwaysdowhatisinone'sintelligentself-interest),includingclassself-interest,eventhoughinpracticealtruisticethicsoftenneed
to
bereinforcedbyself-interest.Tovalueallotherspeciesonlyforhumaninterestsisratherlikeanation'sarguingallitsforeignpolicyinterms
of
nationalself-interest.Neitherseemsfullymoral.Nevertheless,thosewhotrytoarticulateadeeperenvironmentalethicoftengetlostinunfamiliarterritory.Naturalkinds,
if
thatiswhatspeciesare,areobscureobjects
of
concern.Species,assuch,cannotbedirectlyhelpedorhurt,althoughindividualtokens
of
thespeciestypecanbe.Species,
as
such,don'tcare,althoughindividualanimalscancare.Speciesrequirehabitats,embeddedinecosystemsthatevolveandchange.Ninety-eightpercent
ofthe
speciesthathaveinhabitedEarthareextinct,replacedbyotherspecies.Naturedoesn'tcare,sowhyshouldwe?All
of
thefamiliarmorallandmarksaregone.Wehavemovedbeyondcaringabouthumans,orculture,ormoralagents,orindividualanimalsthatareclosekin,orcansuffer,orcanexperienceanything,oraresentient.Speciesarenotvaluerswithpreferencesthatcanbesatisfiedorfrustrated.
It
seemsoddtosaythatspecieshaverights,ormoralstanding,orneedoursympathy,orthatweshouldconsidertheirpoint
of
view.None
of
theseelementshasfiguredwithinthecoordinates
of
prevailingethicalsystems.
In
fact,ethicsandbiologyhavehaduncertainrelationships.
An
often-heardargumentforbidsmovingfromwhat
is
thecase(adescription
of
scientificfacts)towhat
oughttobe
(aprescription
of
moralduty);anywhodosocommit,itisalleged,thenaturalisticfallacy.Ontheotherhand,
if
speciesare
of
objectivevalue,andifhumansencounterandjeopardizesuchvalue,itwouldseemthathumansoughtnotdestroyvaluesinnature,atleastnotwithoutoverridingjustificationproducinggreatervalue.Wemightmakeahumanisticmistake
if
wearrogantlytakevalue
to
lieexclusivelyinthesatisfaction
of
ourhumanpreferences.Whatisatjeopardyandwhatareourduties?
II.
THE
THREATOF
EXTINCTION
Althoughprojectionsvary,reliableestimatesarethat
~ 2 0 %
of
Earth'sspeciesmaybelostwithinafewdecades,
if
presenttrends
go
unreversed.Theselosseswill
be
aboutevenlydistributedthroughmajorgroups
of
plantsandanimalsinbothdevelopedanddevelopingnations,althoughthemostintenseconcernsareintropicalforests.Atleast500species,subspecies,andvarieties
of
faunahavebeenlostintheUnitedStatessince1600.Thenaturalratewouldhavebeenabout
10.
In
Hawaii,
of
68
species
of
birdsuniquetotheislands,
41
areextinctorvirtuallyso.
Half
of
the2200nativeplantsareendangeredorthreatened.Coveringallstates,acandidatelist
of
plantscontainsover2000taxaconsideredtobeendangered,threatened,or
of
concern,althoughrelativelyfew
of
thesehavebeenformallylisted.Acandidatelist
of
animalscontainsabout1800entries.Humansapproach,andinplaceshaveevenexceeded,thecatastrophicrates
of
naturalextinctionspasms
of
thegeologicalpast.ThroughouttheEndangeredSpeciesAct,fromthetitleonward,themoodisone
of
danger.TheActlamentstheirretrievableextinction
of
anyspecies,climaxingina"nojeopardy"clause.Thatclausehasprovedthetoughestpart
ofthe
Act,wherenearlyall
ofthe
litigationhasarisen.Thisinstructsallfederalagencies
to
takewhateveractionisnecessary"toinsurethatactionsauthorized,funded,orcarriedoutbythemdonotjeopardizethecontinuedexistence
of
suchendangeredspeciesorthreatenedspecies."Existenceisatstake,both
of
speciesand
of
habitatsthatarecriticalforthem.
It
maybethoughtthat,althoughthetermsare
 
maleficent,humansarenotinjeopardy;onlytheplantsandanimalsare.Humanshaveimportant,butnotlife-jeopardizing,benefitstobegainedfromsavingspecies.Congressdidwanttoprotectvaluesatstaketothenationanditspeople.Yet,inthesnaildartercase(TennesseeValleyAuthorityversusHill),theU.S.SupremeCourtfoundintheAct"repeatedexpressions
of
congressionalconcernoverwhatitsaw
as
theenormousdangerpresentedbytheeradication
of
anyendangeredspecies."AlthoughCongresshasnotsaidthathumanshavedutiestospecies(suchanethicaljudgmentmightnotbetheprerogative
of
Congress),theCourtinsisted"thatCongressintendedendangeredspeciestobeaffordedthehighest
of
priorities."All
of
thissuggests
considerable
peril,andresponsibilityproportionatetotheperil.NoristhissimplyanActfortheutilitarianconservation
of
importanteconomicresources.Congressdeclaredthatspecieshave"esthetic,ecological,educational,historical,recreationalandscientificvalue"butrefusedtoputonthelistthatvaluethathassincebecometheonemostoftengiven:economicvalue.Rather,revealingwhatCongressthoughtwasatstake,economicvalueissharplysetopposite
to
theseothers.Congresslaments"economicgrowthanddevelopmentuntempered
by
adequateconcernandconservation,"andithasconsistentlyrefusedtoallowtheeconomicbenefitsorcosts
of
thepreservation
of
aspecies
to
beone
of
thecriteriathatdeterminewhetheritislisted.Sinceeconomicconcernsmustsometimesbecon-sidered,Congress
III
the1978
amendmentsauthorized
a
high-level
interagencycommitteetoevaluatedifficultcases,and,shouldthiscommitteedeemfit,topermiteconomicdevelopmentatthecost
of
extinction
of
speciesthatimpedesuchdevelopment.Butitclearlyplacesahighburden
of
proof
onthosewhowishtoputspeciesatperilfordevelopmentreasons.
III.
QUESTIONSOF
FACT:
WHATARESPECIES?
Thereareproblemsattwolevels:oneisaboutfacts(ascientificissue-aboutspecies),oneisaboutvalues(anethicalissue-involvingduties).
It
isdifficultenoughtoarguefroman
is
(thataspeciesexists)toan
ought
(thataspeciesoughttoexist).Mattersgrowworse
if
theconcept
of
speciesistroublesometobeginwith,andthereareseveraldifferingconcepts
of
specieswithinbiology.Perhapsanyconceptisarbitrary,conventional-amappingdevicethatisonlytheoretical.Darwinwrote,"Ilookatthetermspecies,
as
onearbitrarilygivenforthesake
of
conveniencetoaset
of
individualscloselyresemblingeachother."Isthereenoughfactualrealityinspeciestobasedutythere?[SeeSPECIATION.]Noonedoubtsthatindividualorganismsexist,butarespeciesdiscovered?Ormadeup?Indeed,dospeciesexistatall?Systematistsregularlyrevisespeciesdesignationsandroutinelyputafteraspeciesthename
of
the"author"who,theysay,"erected"thetaxon.
If
aspeciesisonlyacategoryorclass,boundarylinesmaybearbitrarilydrawn,andthespeciesisnothingmorethanaconvenientgrouping
of
itsmembers,anartifact
of
theclassifier'sthoughtsandaims.Somenaturalpropertiesareused-reproductivestructures,bones,teeth,orperhapsancestry,genes,ecologicalroles.Butwhichpropertiesareselectedandwherethelinesaredrawnaredecisionsthatvarywithsystematists.Botanistsaredividedwhether
Iliamnaremota,
theKankakeemallowinIllinois,and
Iliamnacorei
inVirginia,whicharebothrare,aredistinctspecies.Perhapsallthatexistsobjectivelyintheworldaretheindividualmallowplants;whethertherearetwospeciesoroneisafussaboutwhichlabeltouse.Aspeciesissomekind
of
fiction,likeacenter
of
gravityorastatisticalaverage.Almostnooneproposesdutiestogenera,families,orders,andphyla;biologistsconcedethatthesedonotexistinnature,eventhoughwemaythinkthattwospeciesindifferentordersrepresentmorebiodiversitythantwointhesamegenus.Ifthisapproachispressed,speciescanbecomesomethinglikethelines
of
longitudeandlatitudeorlikemapcontourlines,ortime
of
day,ordatesonacalendar.Sometimesen-

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->