Ecological Ethics: Building a New Tool Kit for Ecologists and Biodiversity Managers

By March 12, 2015Ethical, Workgroup 2

Author(s): BEN A. MINTEER AND JAMES P. COLLINS

Publication: Conservation Biology

Publication Date: 2005

Abstract: Ecological research and biodiversity management often raise ethical questions in areas that include responsibilities and duties to the scientific community, public welfare, research animals, species, and ecosystems. Answering these questions is challenging because ecologists and biodiversity managers do not have the equivalent of bioethics, an established field with a support network focused mainly on biomedicine, to guide them in making decisions. Environmental ethics provides some insight into environmental values and the duties these may impose on humans. But for the most part those in the field have not considered many of the common responsibilities and obligations that ecologists and managers have to the scientific profession or to public welfare. There is a need to bring ethicists, scientists, and biodiversity managers together in a collaborative effort to study and inform the methods of ethical analysis and problem solving in ecological research and biodiversity management. We present a series of cases that illustrate the kinds of ethical questions faced by researchers and biodiversity managers in practice. We argue for the creation of an extensive case database and a pluralistic and integrated ethical framework, one that draws from the theoretical (normative), research, animal, and environmental ethics traditions. These tools form the foundations of a new area of inquiry and practical ethical problem solving, that we call “ecological ethics.”

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