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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

Copyright (©) 2018 Eze Paez – Editorial format and Graphical layout: copyright (©) LED Edizioni Universitarie

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

Executive Editor: Francesco Allegri
Associate Editor: Matteo Andreozzi 
Review Editors: Sofia Bonicalzi - Eleonora Adorni
Editorial Board:
Ralph R. Acampora - Carol J. Adams - Vilma Baricalla - Luisella Battaglia - Rod Bennison - Matthew R. Calarco - Piergiorgio Donatelli - William Grove-Fanning - Serenella Iovino - Luigi Lombardi Vallauri - Christoph Lumer - Joel MacClellan - Dario Martinelli - Roberto Marchesini - Alma Massaro - Serpil Oppermann - Simone Pollo - Paola Sobbrio - Kim Stallwood - Sabrina Tonutti - Jessica Ullrich - Federico Zuolo

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