Environmental Ethics

Volume 14, Issue 3, Fall 1992

Robert W. Loftin
Pages 253-264

Scientific Collecting

Scientists often collect (kill) organisms in pursuit of human knowledge. When is such killing morally permissible? I explore this question with particular reference to ornithology and against the background of animal liberation ethics and a land ethic, especially Mary Anne Warren’s account that finds the two ethics complementary. I argue that the ethical theories offered provide insufficient guidance. As a step toward the resolution of this serious problem, I offer a set of criteria to determine when collecting is morally permissible.