On the ironies of ecological restoration in North America and the Galápagos
Fri, Mar 3
7:30 PM - 8:30 PM
St. John's College
The sciences need the liberal arts. Wells endeavors to demonstrate why through careful case studies of two related projects in the field of conservation biology.
The first calls for rewilding North America by introducing charismatic megafauna, including elephants, lions and cheetahs, whose North American ancestors arguably were driven extinct by human beings during the Pleistocene (~13,000 years ago). The second, undertaken by some of the same scientists, attempts to rid the Galápagos archipelago of human-introduced organisms, including megafauna, in part to preserve these islands' iconic status as a laboratory of evolution.
Both projects are explicitly justified according to ecological, evolutionary, aesthetic, ethical, and economic criteria. All of these justifications, however, remain grounded in an unexamined humanism whose metaphysical roots can be traced to Descartes and transcendental monotheism. The failure to examine the metaphysical project underlying these conservation programs, he argues, is decidedly illiberal and has serious implications and consequences.
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