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An exploration of the value of naturalness and wild nature


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Ridder, BP 2007 , 'An exploration of the value of naturalness and wild nature' , Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, vol. 20, no. 2 , pp. 195-213 , doi: 10.1007/s10806-006-9025-6.

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The source of the value of naturalness is of considerable relevance for
the conservation movement, to philosophers, and to society generally. However,
naturalness is a complex quality and resists straightforward definition. Here, two
interpretations of what is ‘‘natural’’ are explored. One of these assesses the naturalness
of species and ecosystems with reference to a benchmark date, such as the
advent of industrialization. The value of naturalness in this case largely reflects
prioritization of the value of biodiversity. However, the foundation of our understanding
of naturalness is that it describes processes that are free of human intervention.
Conflict between the two interpretations of naturalness is apparent in the
claim that naturalness can be enhanced by human intervention, in the form of
ecological restoration. Although naturalness in its purest form precludes human
intervention, some human activities are also apparently more natural than others.
This continuum of naturalness relates to the autonomy of the individual from abstract
instrumentalism, which describes a particular form of influence ubiquitous in
contemporary society. The value of naturalness reflects both dissatisfaction with
these threats to personal autonomy, and respect for wild nature as the embodiment
of a larger-than-human realm.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Ridder, BP
Keywords: abstract instrumentalism, autonomy, naturalness, rational agency, values
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
ISSN: 1187-7863
DOI / ID Number: 10.1007/s10806-006-9025-6
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