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Consequences matter: compassion in conservation means caring for individuals, populations and species


Johnson, PJ and Adams, VM and Armstrong, DP and Baker, SE and Biggs, D and Boitani, L and Cotterill, A and Dale, E and O'Donnell, H and Douglas, DJT and Droge, E and Ewen, JG and Feber, RE and Genovesi, P and Hambler, C and Harmsen, BJ and Harrington, LA and Hinks, A and Hughes, J and Katsis, L and Loveridge, A and Moehrenschlager, A and O'Kane, C and Pierre, M and Redpath, S and Sibanda, L and Soorae, P and Price, MS and Tyrrell, P and Zimmermann, A and Dickman, A, Consequences matter: compassion in conservation means caring for individuals, populations and species, Animals, 9, (12) Article 1115. ISSN 2076-2615 (2019) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2019 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.3390/ani9121115


Human activity affecting the welfare of wild vertebrates, widely accepted to be sentient, and therefore deserving of moral concern, is widespread. A variety of motives lead to the killing of individual wild animals. These include to provide food, to protect stock and other human interests, and also for sport. The acceptability of such killing is widely believed to vary with the motive and method. Individual vertebrates are also killed by conservationists. Whether securing conservation goals is an adequate reason for such killing has recently been challenged. Conventional conservation practice has tended to prioritise ecological collectives, such as populations and species, when their interests conflict with those of individuals. Supporters of the 'Compassionate Conservation' movement argue both that conservationists have neglected animal welfare when such conflicts arise and that no killing for conservation is justified. We counter that conservationists increasingly seek to adhere to high standards of welfare, and that the extreme position advocated by some supporters of 'Compassionate Conservation', rooted in virtue ethics, would, if widely accepted, lead to considerable negative effects for conservation. Conservation practice cannot afford to neglect consequences. Moreover, the do-no-harm maxim does not always lead to better outcomes for animal welfare.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ethics, compassion, consequentialism, virtue
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Conservation and biodiversity
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Environmental policy, legislation and standards
Objective Field:Environmental policy, legislation and standards not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Adams, VM (Dr Vanessa Adams)
ID Code:137490
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:7
Deposited By:Geography and Spatial Science
Deposited On:2020-02-17
Last Modified:2020-05-19
Downloads:3 View Download Statistics

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