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Environmental Ethics

Volume 37, Issue 2, Summer 2015

Christian Diehm
Pages 131-143
DOI: 10.5840/enviroethics201537214

Should Extinction be Forever? Restitution, Restoration, and Reviving Extinct Species

“De-extinction” projects propose to re-create or “resurrect” extinct species. Perhaps the most common justification offered for these projects is that humans have an obligation to make restitution to species we have eradicated. There are three versions of this argument for de-extinction—one individualistic, one concerned with species, and one that emphasizes ecological restoration—and all three fail to provide a compelling case for species revival. A general critique of de-extinction can be sketched that highlights how it can both facilitate inattentiveness to biological and ecological boundaries and foster a managerial mentality toward the natural world.