Article

On the Nature of Species and the Moral Significance of their Extinction

Russell Powell

in The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780195371963
Published online May 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195371963.013.0022

Series: Oxford Handbooks

On the Nature of Species and the Moral Significance of their Extinction

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This article begins by noting that in the history of life, every species up to presently existing species has become extinct. Complex life itself has been on the brink of annihilation at various points in the evolutionary process. A problem, given this history, is whether we should regard the causing or the permitting of the extinction of species as a bad outcome to be avoided. It notes that so-called common-sense intuitions about these matters are not trustworthy and often do not hold up to theoretical scrutiny. Using the evolutionary and ecological sciences, the discussion takes the currently received view that species should be analyzed in terms of individual lineages and not as a temporal natural kinds.

Keywords: extinction; life history; evolution; ecological sciences

Article.  12441 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science

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