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Refusing Help and Inflicting Harm. A Critique of the Environmentalist View

Eze Paez


Due to a variety of natural causes, suffering predominates over well-being in the lives of wild animals. From an antispeciesist standpoint that considers the interests of all sentient individuals, we should intervene in nature to benefit these animals, provided that the expectable result is net positive. However, according to the environmentalist view the aim of benefiting wild animals cannot justify intervening in nature. In addition, harmful human interventions can sometimes be justified. This view assumes that (i) certain entities such as ecosystems or species have intrinsic value, and that (ii) at least sometimes these values are more important than nonhuman well-being. In this article I review the arguments in support of this view advanced by three prominent environmentalists (Albert Schweitzer, Paul W. Taylor and J. Baird Callicott) and show how none of them succeed at grounding these assumptions.


animal ethics; antispeciesism; environmentalism; biocentrism; ecocentrism; nonhuman animals; intrinsic value; intervention in nature; wild animals; natural harms

Full Text:



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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/rela-2015-002-paez


Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (04/05/2012 n. 211)
Online ISSN 2280-9643 - Print ISSN 2283-3196

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