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Protecting nature for the sake of human beings.

James, Simon P. (2016) 'Protecting nature for the sake of human beings.', Ratio., 29 (2). pp. 213-227.


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.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This is the accepted version of the following article: James, S. P. (2015), Protecting Nature for the Sake of Human Beings. Ratio, 29(2): 213-227, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Date accepted:09 April 2015
Date deposited:04 February 2016
Date of first online publication:04 March 2015
Date first made open access:04 March 2017

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