The central philosophical problem concerning our duties with regard to nature is this: We are strongly inclined to think we have certain duties which are not fully accounted for by instrumental arguments. We are also strongly inclined to hold a view about value that seems to make it impossible to account for these duties by any noninstrumental arguments. Hence our perplexity. It seems that we have duties to respect living creatures; to avoid causing the extinction of species; even to preserve complex parts of the environment s uch as a tropical rain forest or the Grand Canyon. If we ask how we can account for these duties (which for convenience I shall refer to collectively as duties of preservation), one possibility is to list the benefits that accrue to us from acknowledging them.
Publication Information & Recommended Citation
Regan, Donald H. "Duties of Preservation." In The Preservation of Species, edited by B. G. Norton. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1986.