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Environmental Values

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Environmental Values

Conservation and Individual Worth

Gill Aitken

Environmental Values 6(1997): 439-454. doi: 10.3197/096327197776679040

It is commonly supposed that individual animals are of little relevance to conservation which is concerned, instead, with groups of things or 'wholes' such as species, habitats, and the like. It is further contended by some that by prioritising individuals, two of those values that are held dear by conservation - namely natural selection and fitness - are compromised. Taking wildlife rehabilitation as a paradigm case of concern for the individual, it is argued that the latter claim is based upon mistaken assumptions. Then, using red deer culling as a case study, the discord between conservation's holistic values and a concern for individual worth is explored. It emerges that the conservation value of red deer culling is more apparent than real and thus that there is more room for conservationists' acceptance of individual worth than usually supposed.

KEYWORDS: Wildlife rehabilitation, culling, holistic, 'wholes', natural selection, fitness

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