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Monkeywrenching, Perverse Incentives and Ecodefence

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By focusing too narrowly on consequentialist arguments for ecosabotage, environmental philosophers such as Michael Martin (1990) and Thomas Young (2001) have tended to overlook two important facts about monkeywrenching. First, advocates of monkeywrenching see sabotage above all as a technique for counteracting perverse economic incentives. Second, their main argument for monkeywrenching - which I will call the ecodefence argument - is not consequentialist at all. After calling attention to these two under-appreciated aspects of monkeywrenching, I go on to offer a critique of the ecodefence argument. Finally, I show that there is also a tension between the use of cost/benefit analysis to justify particular acts of ecosabotage and the clandestine nature of those acts.

Keywords: cost/benefit analysis; deep ecology; ecodefence; ecosabotage; monkey-wrenching

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 2006

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  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has an impact factor (2014) of 1.056.
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