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If Natural Entities Have Intrinsic Value, Should We Then Abstain from Helping Animals Who Are Victims of Natural Processes?

Luciano Carlos Cunha

Abstract


The idyllic view of nature is false: natural processes, given the prevalence of the reproductive strategy known as “r-selection”, tend to maximize the suffering of animals in nature. For the animals subjected to natural processes, disvalue overwhelmingly prevails over value. Any normative theory that directly considers sentient beings must recognize strong reasons to minimize such disvalue. Here, I will respond to a possible objection to this conclusion: that if non-sentient natural entities have intrinsic value, then our axiological evaluation of the situation of animals in nature must imply either that helping animals in nature is prohibited or that our reasons for helping them are considerably weak.


Keywords


wild animal suffering; intrinsic value; speciesism; sentience; environmentalism; intervention in nature; natural disvalue; idyllic view of nature; conflicting values; anthropocentric speciesism

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References


Callicott, John Baird. 1990. “The Case Against Moral Pluralism.” Environmental Ethics 12: 99-124.

Horta, Oscar. 2010a. “Debunking the Idyllic View of Natural Processes: Population Dynamics and Suffering in the Wild.” Télos 17: 73-88.

―. 2010b. “Igualitarismo, Igualación a la Baja, Antropocentrismo y Valor de la Vida.” Revista de Filosofía 35: 133-152.

―. 2010c. “What is Speciesism.” The Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 23: 243-266.

Ng, Yew-Kwang. 1995. “Towards Welfare Biology: Evolutionary Economics of Animal Consciousness and Suffering.” Biology and Philosophy 10 (3): 255-285.

Temkin, Larry. S. 2000. “Equality, Priority, and the Levelling Down Objection.” In The Ideal of Equality edited by Matthew Clayton and Andrew Williams, 126-161. New York: Macmillan and St. Martin’s Press.

Tomasik, Brian. 2014. “How Many Wild Animals are There?” Essays on Reducing Suffering. Accessed July 26. http://www.utilitarian-essays.com/number-of-wild-animals.html

Varner, Gary. 1991. “No Holism without Pluralism.” Environmental Ethics 13: 175-179.




DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/rela-2015-001-cunh




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Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (04/05/2012 n. 211)
Online ISSN 2280-9643 - Print ISSN 2283-3196
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Executive Editor: Matteo Andreozzi
Managing Editor: Adele Tiengo
Associate Editors: Rod Bennison - Alma Massaro - Kim Stallwood - Jessica Ulrich
Consulting Editor: Leonardo Caffo
Review Editors: Sofia Bonicalzi - Eleonora Adorni
Editorial Board: Ralph R. Acampora - Carol J. Adams - Matthew R. Calarco - Gabriele Cambiotti - Piergiorgio Donatelli - Arianna Ferrari - William Grove-Fanning - Serenella Iovino - Joel MacClellan - Dario Martinelli - Roberto Marchesini - Barbara Muraca - Serpil Oppermann - Piergiacomo Pagano - Paola Sobbrio - Sabrina Tonutti