Examining ecosystem integrity

Environmental Ethics 21 (1):59-73 (1999)
Abstract
Attempts to come to grip with what appears to be the autonomy of nature have developed into several schools of thought. Among the most influential of these schools is the ecosystem integrity approach to environmental ethics, management and policy. The philosophical arm of the approach has been spearheaded by Laura Westra and her work in An Environmental Proposal for Ethics. The emphasis that this school places on pristine wilderness to model ecosystem integrity and the arguments Westra devises to justify the application of what she calls the “principle of integrity,” although clear in its goal and object of inquiry, could very well retrench dualistic thinking of the sort that environmental thinkers have been trying to undermine. More importantly, I argue that Westra misses an important implication for the way in which ecosystem integrity could be used to help develop an ethic not so confined by problems of justification in attaching values to facts and descriptions to prescriptions
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