Why Preserve Natural Variety?

Why Preserve Natural Variety?

Bryan G. Norton
Copyright Date: 1987
Pages: 300
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zv3gd
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  • Book Info
    Why Preserve Natural Variety?
    Book Description:

    A valuable and unique contribution both to environmental ethics and public policy analysis of the preservation of species question. Norton provides a critical overview of the range of thought on the issue, presents a new and comprehensive rationale for preservation of both species and ecosystems, and addresses policy issues.

    Originally published in 1990.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5923-8
    Subjects: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. ONE A RATIONALE FOR PRESERVING SPECIES: AN APOLOGY AND A TAXONOMY
    (pp. 3-22)

    The passage of several endangered species acts, culminating in the comprehensive Endangered Species Act of 1973, represents a series of landmarks for the environmental movement.¹ By these steps the legislative branch of the United States government instituted a policy designed to protect all species from extinction. The passage of the acts resulted from a significant groundswell of public opinion: over a period of a decade it had become fashionable, evende rigueur, for politicians to advocate environmental protection. Support for the endangered species acts became a popular means to establish credentials as an environmentalist. The eventual result was a very...

  5. Part A. Demand Values and Species Preservation

    • TWO DEMAND VALUES AND ECONOMIC ANALYSIS
      (pp. 25-45)

      What is the value of species? In evaluating public works projects that affect them, it is sometimes proposed that decisions can best be made by calculating in dollars the value of species whose survival chances would be affected. Once assigned, these dollar values can be factored into economic analyses informing decisions about the project. If, for example, the project threatens the future existence of a species, the dollar value of that species should be considered one of the project’s costs. If the project protects a species, that value should be added to the other benefits involved. It is often assumed...

    • THREE THE VALUE OF ECOSYSTEMS AND THE VALUE OF SPECIES
      (pp. 46-72)

      “Man has generally been preoccupied with obtaining as much ‘production’ from the landscape as possible by developing and maintaining … ecosystems [such as] monocultures. But, of course, man does not live by food and fiber alone,” says noted ecologist Eugene Odum. He goes on to cite the need for a balanced CO2-O2atmosphere, for the climatic buffer provided by oceans and masses of vegetation, and for clean water. These, Odum notes, are provided by the “less productive” landscapes. “In other words,” he concludes, “the landscape is not just a supply depot but is also theoikos—the home—in which...

    • FOUR DIVERSITY, STABILITY, AND AUTOGENIC SYSTEMS
      (pp. 73-97)

      Over the past few decades, it has been common for conservationists to appeal to what has been called the diversity-stability hypothesis to support the preservation of species and natural diversity. The following passage from Barry Commoner’sThe Closing Circleillustrates the use of this popular argument:

      The amount of stress which an ecosystem can absorb before it is driven to collapse is also a result of its various interconnections and their relative speeds of response. The more complex the ecosystem, the more successfully it can resist a stress … Like a net, in which each knot is connected to others...

    • FIVE AMENITY VALUES
      (pp. 98-118)

      Demand values represent aggregations of felt preferences, temporarily frozen in time for the purpose of computation. Many of them are not, of course, actually fixed either genetically or physiologically. There is therefore an intuitive but by no means sharp distinction between preferences that are based on essential human “needs” and those that are changeable and culturally or psychologically determined (“wants”). Attaining a minimum caloric intake, protection from life-threatening predators or parasites, and maintenance of a minimum body temperature provide relatively clear examples of essential needs, while the desire for symphonic music, for meat at every meal, and for a fur...

    • SIX A PARTING LOOK AT DEMAND VALUES
      (pp. 119-132)

      I began Part A of this book by arguing that the way in which the question of the value of a species is framed can lead to quite different answers to that question. One approach examines species individually, attempting to identify particular industrial, commercial, option, and existence values of species considered one by one. This approach is favored by economists who advocate a BCA approach (or various modifications of it) to decision making regarding species. It is an essential assumption of their approach that meaningful, nonarbitrary dollar values can be assigned species in a way that does not systematically bias...

  6. Part B. Intrinsic Value and Species Preservation

    • SEVEN ANTHROPOCENTRISM
      (pp. 135-150)

      Many environmentalists, appalled at the destruction wrought by human consumption of natural products, have attributed intrinsic value to other species, arguing that, however useful they are for human purposes, their full value is not exhausted by those instrumental values. Such attributions deny the thesis of anthropocentrism. That thesis can be stated as follows: only humans are the locus of intrinsic value, and the value of all other objects derives from their contributions to human values.

      As was explained in Section 1.2, human values can be interpreted narrowly, to include only human demand values, or more broadly, including transformative values as...

    • EIGHT NONANTHROPOCENTRISM I: INTRINSIC VALUE AND INDIVIDUALS
      (pp. 151-168)

      A successful case for anthropocentrism would render useless attempts to establish the intrinsic value of nonhuman natural objects. But, as we have seen, the arguments for anthropocentrism have proved inconclusive. So the question now arises: Can such attempts be given a plausible theoretical understanding?

      It will be useful first to classify the numerous possible positions by their answers to three questions:

      (1) What is thelocusof the intrinsic value ascribed?

      (2) What does itmeanto ascribe intrinsic value to an object?

      (3) How are ascriptions of intrinsic value to nonhuman objectsjustified?

      There are three reasonable answers to...

    • NINE NONANTHROPOCENTRISM II: SPECIES AND ECOSYSTEMS
      (pp. 169-182)

      My arguments have cast doubt on the usefulness as well as the cogency of any attempt to anchor the intrinsic value of nonhuman species in the intrinsic value of nonhuman individuals. But fortunately for believers in the intrinsic value of species, the concept of intrinsic value is broader than the concept of individual welfare, however interpreted. There is no contradiction in ascribing intrinsic value to natural objects other than living individuals. At the cost of forfeiting the clearest and least controversial model for intrinsic value, that of the intrinsic value of human individuals, species preservationists can attribute intrinsic value to...

  7. Part C. Transformative Values and Species Preservation

    • TEN TRANSFORMATIVE VALUES
      (pp. 185-213)

      I began by defining four categories of reasons for protecting species. These categories, defined in terms of the values to which they appeal, were formed by the intersection of two dichotomies, one distinguishing values according to who or what is served by them and the other according to the type of value involved. Anthropocentric arguments comprehend all reasons that ultimately appeal to the intrinsic value located in human beings, while nonanthropocentric arguments appeal to intrinsic value located in nonhuman species. Cutting across this dichotomy is another one: the value of an experience can lie either in its fulfilling an existing,...

    • ELEVEN A COHERENT RATIONALE FOR SPECIES PRESERVATION
      (pp. 214-240)

      Species preservationists often argue or assume that reasons for protecting species can be grouped into two basic categories, designated variously as economic versus noneconomic, utilitarian versus nonutilitarian, prudential versus ethical. These various distinctions, while related, need not delimit exactly the same categories, and they all suffer from certain ambiguities. But references to some such bifurcation persist.

      My purpose in this chapter is to integrate the diverse reasons discussed in preceding chapters into a coherent rationale for preserving species. It would be useful if one element of this integration were a typology of general rules for grouping, organizing, and perhaps even...

  8. Part D. Triage:: The Priority Issue

    • TWELVE FORMAL AND SUBSTANTIVE PRIORITY SYSTEMS
      (pp. 243-257)

      The magnitude of the problem of disappearing species, viewed worldwide, dwarfs resources currently available to address it. This grim fact ushers in the question of priority rankings in endangered species policy, to the dismay of many environmentalists who often express considerable reluctance to discuss, far less advocate, priority rankings among species. Their discomfort at making and imposing “value judgments” on the natural order reflects a deep-seated uneasiness about human meddling in the natural world.

      Much, but not all, of this discomfort originates in confusion. The purpose of this chapter is to eliminate unnecessary discomfort by clarifying the value commitments involved...

    • THIRTEEN AVOIDING TRIAGE: AN ALTERNATIVE APPROACH TO THE PRIORITIES PROBLEM
      (pp. 258-272)

      Managers face excruciating decisions because appropriations for species preservation lag behind needs. The shortfall can be expected to widen as threats to species escalate in the face of human population growth and increasing consumption. Perhaps inevitably there have been calls for a system of triage, which takes its name from the French policy of sorting wartime casualties into three categories for medical treatment: those with superficial wounds that do not require immediate attention; those with wounds too serious to make treatment efficacious; and those in the middle range, having serious but treatable wounds.¹

      Once the issue is formulated in this...

  9. INDEX
    (pp. 273-281)