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An Exploration of the Value of Naturalness and Wild Nature


Ridder, BP, An Exploration of the Value of Naturalness and Wild Nature, Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 20, (2) pp. 195-213. ISSN 1187-7863 (2007) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1007/s10806-006-9025-6


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. © Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Philosophy and Religious Studies
Research Group:Applied ethics
Research Field:Applied ethics not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Other environmental management
Objective Field:Other environmental management not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Ridder, BP (Mr Benjamin Ridder)
ID Code:44062
Year Published:2007
Web of Science® Times Cited:25
Deposited By:Geography and Environmental Studies
Deposited On:2007-08-01
Last Modified:2008-04-16

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