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Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics

Volume 22, Fall 2002

John Hart
Pages 67-93

Salmon and Social Ethics
Relational Consciousness in the Web of Life

People from Native American/First Nation spiritual traditions and from Christian religious backgrounds express sometimes contradictory, sometimes complementary perspectives on humans' role in an interrelated and interdependent "web of life." The extinction of salmon species in the Columbia-Snake river system of Canada and the United States, and the loss of salmon from the Haida Gwaii fisheries off the western coast of Canada, provide bioregional stimuli for reflection on whether nonhuman species have intrinsic value or solely instrumental value, and the extent to which species preservation should have equitable status with, or take precedence over, human wants and apparent human needs. If societal needs and species conservation, and the common good of all creatures, are to be integrated for the good of the commons then a relational consciousness must replace "dominion" and "stewardship" attitudes toward creation.

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