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Environmental Values

Moral-Material Ontologies of Nature Conservation: Exploring the Discord Between Ecological Restoration and Novel Ecosystems

Mick Lennon

Environmental Values 26 (2017): 5-29. doi: 10.3197/096327117X14809634978474

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Recent years have witnessed growing concerns about how we should conduct conservation activities in a world of human-altered biophysical conditions. The 'novel ecosystems' perspective has emerged as a way to meet this challenge. Yet its focus on accepting 'new natures' as the 'new normal' has drawn much criticism from those wedded to conventional forms of conservation, such as 'ecological restoration'. This paper: 1) provides a much needed review of this dispute; 2) formulates and deploys an original analytical framework, which draws on Thomas Kuhn's 'theoretical history' of science and Charles Taylor's moral philosophy to extricate the entangled moral and material ontologies of nature which conflate facts with values in the world-building activities of disputants; and 3) identifies and examines the processes underlying these world-building activities. The paper closes by offering an initial suggestion on how to explore options for resolving this highly contentious debate.


Ecological restoration, novel ecosystems, ontology, values, Anthropocene

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

Paradigm Dressed as Epoch: The Ideology of the Anthropocene.Jeremy Baskin

Contact! Contact! Nature Preservation as the Preservation of Meaning. Glenn Deliège

Artefacts and Functions: A Note on the Value of Nature Eric Katz

Future Directions for Conservation. Jozef Keulartz

Environmental Aesthetics and Rewilding. Jonathan Prior, Emily Brady

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles

Editorial: A Diversity of Imaginaries. Simon Hailwood

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