Philosophia:1-11 (forthcoming)

Clare Alexandra Palmer
Texas A&M University
In his book Wild Animal Ethics, Kyle Johannsen argues that our duties of beneficence to help suffering wild animals require significant interventions into wild nature. In particular, he claims that the majority of wild animals lead miserable lives and that naturalness, or wildness, is not an intrinsically valuable property. In these comments, I question both these claims. First, I argue that a lot more evidence is needed than Johannsen provides to support the claim that most wild animal lives are terrible. Then I suggest that Johannsen both mischaracterizes and fails to recognize the importance of wildness value, meaning that he doesn’t discuss some significant ethical worries about the kind of large-scale interventions into wild nature he proposes. While I don’t argue that wildness value necessarily trumps the disvalue of wild animal suffering. I maintain that there are genuine value conflicts here, and also that wildness value is just one example of such a conflict. If, as Johannsen claims, he wants to gain democratic legitimacy for large scale interventions to assist suffering wild animals, he needs to take such value conflicts much more seriously.
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DOI 10.1007/s11406-021-00418-3
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