The virtue of compassion in compassionate conservation

Bobier, Christopher and Allen, Benjamin ORCID: (2021) The virtue of compassion in compassionate conservation. Conservation Biology:1-6. pp. 1-6. ISSN 0888-8892

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The role of ethics is becoming an increasingly important feature of biodiversity conservation dialogue and practice. Compassionate conservationists argue for a prohibition of, or at least a strong presumption against, the adoption of conservation policies that intentionally harm animals. They assert that to be compassionate is to care about animals and that it is antithetical to caring for animals to intentionally harm them. Compassionate conservationists thus criticize many existing conservation practices and policies. Two things together challenge the philosophical foundation of compassionate conservation. First, compassionate conservationists ground their theory in virtue ethics, yet virtue ethics permits exceptions to moral rules, so there cannot be an in-principle prohibition on adopting intentional harm-inducing policies and practices. But not all compassionate conservationists advocate for a prohibition on intentionally harming animals, only a strong presumption against it. This leads to the second point: compassion can motivate a person to adopt a harm-inducing conservation policy or practice when doing so is the best available option in a situation in which animals will be harmed no matter what policy or practice is adopted. Combining these insights with the empirical observation that conservationists regularly find themselves in tragic situations, we arrive at the conclusion that conservationists may regularly advocate for harm-inducing policies and practices from a position of compassion. Article Impact Statement: Compassionate conservationists should accept that the virtuously compassionate person may adopt harm-causing conservation policies.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment - Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Systems (1 Aug 2018 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment - Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Systems (1 Aug 2018 -)
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2022 02:54
Last Modified: 31 May 2022 22:05
Uncontrolled Keywords: biodiversity conservation; conservacion de la biodiversidad; control letal; killing; lethal control; manejo de fauna; matanzas; virtue ethics; wildlife management; etica de las virtudes
Fields of Research (2008): 05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management
Fields of Research (2020): 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410407 Wildlife and habitat management
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1806 Terrestrial systems and management > 180606 Terrestrial biodiversity
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