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Environmental Ethics

Volume 25, Issue 4, Winter 2003

Alexander Gillespie
Pages 395-410

Legitimating a Whale Ethic

Ethical discussions have entered into the discourse of the International Whaling Commission. In accordance with the existing approach in international environmental law, countries can legitimately choose not to exploit a resource in the traditional sense. Recognition of this possibility is important because it is commonly suggested that countries must adopt a lethal approach to so-called “sustainable whaling” as there are no other legitimate alternatives. However, the precedent of Antarctica suggests otherwise in international environmental law. Moreover, when the possibilities of the nonlethal utilization of whales via operations such as whale watching are examined, the legitimacy of the nonlethal choices is even stronger.

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