Should Extinction Be Forever?

Abstract

This article will explore a problem which is related to our moral obligations towards species. Although the re-creation of extinct animals has been discussed to some degree both in lay deliberations as well as by scientists, advocates tend to emphasize the technological and scientific value of such an endeavour, and the “coolness” factor (Sherkow and Greely Science, 340(6128), 32–33, 2013). This article will provide an argument in favour of re-creation based on normative considerations. The environmentalist community generally accepts that it is wrong to exterminate species, for reasons beyond any instrumental value these species may have. It is often also claimed that humanity has a collective responsibility to either preserve or at least to not exterminate species. These two beliefs are here assumed to be correct. The argument presented here departs from and places these two ideas in a deontological framework, from which it is argued that when humanity causes the extinction of a species, this is a moral transgression, entailing a residual obligation. Such an obligation implies a positive duty to mitigate any harm caused by our moral failure. In light of recent scientific progress in the field of genetic engineering, it will be argued that humanity has a prima facie obligation to re-create species whose extinction mankind may have caused, also known as de-extinction.

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Correspondence to Karim Jebari.

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Jebari, K. Should Extinction Be Forever?. Philos. Technol. 29, 211–222 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13347-015-0208-9

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Keywords

  • Extinction
  • De-extinction
  • Species
  • Bioethics
  • Environmental ethics
  • Restoration