The Ethics of De-Extinction
- First Online:
- Cite this article as:
- Cohen, S. Nanoethics (2014) 8: 165. doi:10.1007/s11569-014-0201-2
- 4.3k Downloads
“de-extinction” refers to the process of resurrecting extinct species by genetic methods. This science-fiction-sounding idea is in fact already in early processes of scientific implementation. Although this recent “revival of the dead” raises deep ethical questions, the ethics of de-extinction has barely received philosophical treatment. Rather than seeking a verdict for or against de-extinction, this paper attempts an overview and some novel analyses of the main ethical considerations. Five dimensions of the ethics of de-extinction are explored: (a) the possible contribution of de-extinction to promoting ecological values, (b) the deontological argument that we owe de-extinction to species we rendered extinct, (c) the question of “playing God” through de-extinction, (d) the utilitarian perspective, and (e) the role of aesthetic considerations in the ethics of de-extinction. A general feature arising from the paper’s discussion is that, due to de-extinction’s special character, it repeatedly tests the limits of our ethical notions.