Dateline Florence (I just like saying that), where the Global Ecological Integrity Group Conference continues:
One of today’s speakers — an ecologist from Australia — asked: When is it ethically appropriate to cull wildlife to reduce the disease threat to humans?
While I am pleased that such questions get posed, they raise predicate questions which seldom get asked. For example:
1) Is reducing the disease threat to humans an objective good?
2) If so, how much are we willing to sacrifice in order to achieve it?
a) I.e., are we willing to likewise ask when it is ethically appropriate to cull humans to reduce the disease threat?
3) What criteria do we use to ethically differentiate ourselves from wildlife?
Please understand that I am not advocating for a policy of culling humans. I rather wish to question the ethical predicates underlying the culling of animals.
People often assume that this set of questions stems from and is founded on a philosophy of animal rights. I believe that they first and foremost arise from environmental ethics. Indeed, I wonder how we who embrace the Land Ethic can avoid shouting them from the rooftops.
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