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Environmental Values

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Environmental Values

Beasts versus the Biosphere?

Mary Midgley

Environmental Values 1(1992): 113-121. doi: 10.3197/096327192776680115

Apparent clashes of interest between 'deep ecologists' and 'animal liberationists' can be understood as differences in emphasis rather than conflicts of principle, although it is only too easy for campaigners to regard as rivals good causes other than their own. Moral principles are part of a larger whole, within which they can be related, rather than absolute all-purpose rules of right conduct. This is illustrated using the practical dilemma which often occurs in conservation management, of whether or not to cull animals that are damaging their habitat by overgrazing. Here, and in general, when we are faced with a choice between two evils, the need for scrupulous discrimination and honesty cannot be overstated; but it is not a worthy option to retreat behind moral principles of limited application.

KEYWORDS: environment, philosophy, culling, habitat management, moral dilemmas, moral judgement

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