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Environmental Values

Species Conservation and Minority Rights: The Case of Springtime Bird Hunting in Aland

Elisa Aaltola and Markku Oksanen

Environmental Values 11(2002): 443-460. doi: 10.3197/096327102129341172

The article examines the case of springtime bird hunting in Aland from a moral point of view. In Aland springtime hunting has been a cultural practice for centuries but is now under investigation due to the EU Directive on the protection of birds. The main question of the article is whether restrictions on bird hunting have a sound basis. We approach this question by analysing three principles: The animal rights principle states that if hunting is not necessary for survival, it cannot be morally justified. Therefore hunting merely to engage in a cultural custom is morally suspect. In the light of the species conservation principle the hunting is questionable due to the fact that it seems to have a diminishing effect on the species populations. The formal principle of justice makes up a more difficult question since the special position of the minorities in regard to the use of natural resources is generally recognised so that they have the right to maintain their cultural practices. We claim, however, that even though cultural practices have substantial value and can be the object of special rights, they should be coherent with other principles. The springtime bird hunt in Aland does not accord with the relevant moral principles and for this reason we conclude that the basis for its continuation is weak.


KEYWORDS: Hunting, minority rights, animal ethics, species, conservation, Aland

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

When Preservationism doesn't Preserve. David Schmidtz

From a View to a Death: Culture, Nature and the Huntsman's Art. Roger Scruton

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles:

Hunting as a Moral Good. Lawrence Cahoone


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