To Assist or Not to Assist? Assessing the Potential Moral Costs of Humanitarian Intervention in Nature

Environmental Values 29 (1):29-45 (2020)
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In light of the extent of wild animal suffering, some philosophers have adopted the view that we should cautiously assist wild animals on a large scale. Recently, their view has come under criticism. According to one objection, even cautious intervention is unjustified because fallibility is allegedly intractable. By contrast, a second objection states that we should abandon caution and intentionally destroy habitat in order to prevent wild animals from reproducing. In my paper, I argue that intentional habitat destruction is wrong because negative duties are more stringent than positive duties. However, I also argue that the possible benefits of ecological damage, combined with the excusability of unintended, unforeseeable harm, suggest that fallibility should not paralyse us.
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First archival date: 2019-03-24
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