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Durham University

Department of Philosophy

Staff

Publication details for Dr Simon Paul James

James, Simon P. (2016). Protecting Nature for the Sake of Human Beings. Ratio 29(2): 213-227.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

It is often assumed that to say that nature should be protected for the sake of human beings just is to say that it should be protected because it is a means to one or more anthropocentric ends. I argue that this assumption is false. In some contexts, claims that a particular natural X should be protected for our sakes mean that X should be protected, not because it is a means to anthropocentric ends, but because it is part of something about human life that is of value: because, that is, its value is anthropocentric and constitutive rather than anthropocentric and instrumental. It follows, I suggest, that one does not need to endorse the non-anthropocentric claim that nature should be protected for its own sake in order to challenge the instrumentalist notion that it should be protected simply because it is a means to anthropocentric ends (as, say, a provider of ecosystem services). To make my case, I consider the UK Government's failed attempt to sell off England's publicly-owned forests.