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To Assist or Not to Assist? Assessing the Potential Moral Costs of Humanitarian Intervention in Nature

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In light of the extent of wild animal suffering, some philosophers have adopted the view that we should cautiously assist wild animals on a large scale. Recently, their view has come under criticism. According to one objection, even cautious intervention is unjustified because fallibility is allegedly intractable. By contrast, a second objection states that we should abandon caution and intentionally destroy habitat in order to prevent wild animals from reproducing. In my paper, I argue that intentional habitat destruction is wrong because negative duties are more stringent than positive duties. However, I also argue that the possible benefits of ecological damage, combined with the excusability of unintended, unforeseeable harm, suggest that fallibility should not paralyse us.
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Keywords: Utilitarianism; animal rights; fallibility; r-Strategists; wild animal suffering

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2020

This article was made available online on June 14, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "To Assist or Not to Assist? Assessing the Potential Moral Costs of Humanitarian Intervention in Nature".

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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 a Journal Impact Factor (2019) of 2.158. 5 Year Impact Factor: 2.047.
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