Document Type


Date of Award

Fall 1-31-2003

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Policy Studies - (M.S.)


Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Eric M. Katz

Second Advisor

David Rothenberg

Third Advisor

Andrew Light


What does the process of ecological restoration actually produce? For some restoring nature is a point of no contention. By replacing ecosystems that have been damaged by human interference, humans are taking proper responsibility for their actions. However, the environmental ethics community is all but in agreement over humans' obligations to damaged ecosystems. Some in the field claim that it is human's responsibility to perform "wild gardening", through restorations, to "our" environments. While other philosophers insist that these acts produce "faked nature".

This thesis offers a compromise vision of the meaning of restoration. The author uses the concept of Autonomous Biological Culture (ABC), defined as the point where an ecosystem is self-functioning but a product of human interference, as an ideal goal of any restoration practice. Although certain restorations are accepted in some situations-with the ideal goal of ABC in mind, restoration is not accepted as an appropriate goal of an operative environmental ethic.

Justification of restoration is considered beyond anthropocentric-human-centered-reasons. The author argues that restorations are valuable beyond human necessity. Natural relational values or non-anthropocentric instrumental values are considered, as a means of justifying restoration obligations. In this sense, environmental pragmatism is broadened to include the consequences experienced by non- anthropocentric entities.

If environmental protection is deemed morally correct, then restorations-which admittedly do not re-create nature-that protect an ecosystem and its surrounding areas also must also be morally correct. In this same vein, if environmental protection is deemed morally correct, then restoration promises that aid in the destruction of natural environments, violate the moral duty of environmental protection, and are thus, morally incorrect.



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