The concept of nature in Western thought has been informed by the assumption of a categorical distinction between natural and artificial entities, which goes back to John Stuart Mill or even Aristotle. Such a way of articulating the natural/artificial distinction has proven unfit for conservation purposes mainly because of the extent and the pervasiveness of human activities that would leave no nature left to be conserved, and alternative views have been advanced. In this contribution, after arguing for the importance of the concept of naturalness as a guide for conservation, I will try to provide an account of the natural/artificial distinction suited to contemporary conservation framing. Focusing on a particular kind of objects that I suggest to name “environmental objects”, I propose and defend the view of “naturalness as independence” according to which the more or less an environmental object's identity conditions and survival depend on human intervention, the more or less that object is artificial or natural, respectively. According to this view, conserving environmental objects will equate to maintaining or improving their naturalness or even originating artificial objects that may become new natural objects. This view has the advantage, on the one hand, of providing a rationale for a distinction which is not only part of how people think, but also pervasive in conservation practices and policies and, on the other hand, of accounting for the global pervasiveness of human intervention in the so-called natural world.
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DOI 10.1007/s40656-020-00312-3
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On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 178 (3):388-390.

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