Volume 44, Issue 1, Spring 2022
ISEE 2020 Special Issue
Infringing upon Environmental Autonomy with the Aim of Enabling It
Part of what makes the environment valuable is its autonomy. There are some who think that any human influence on an environment is necessarily autonomy-compromising because it is a form of human control. In this article, I will assume human influence on the environment necessarily undermines autonomy. However, I will argue, even given this assumption, it is still possible for the intervention to enable autonomy in the long run. My focus is on genetic intervention into organisms, because some might think human influence in these cases cannot dissipate. I argue this is mistaken and, borrowing a concept from botany, I argue genes, even genes inserted into a genome by humans, can “naturalize.” Furthermore, they can function in ways that are autonomy-enabling to the individual and to the system to which the organism belongs.