The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 3, 2007

Human Rights

Markku Oksanen
Pages 179-183

Species Extinction and Collective Responsibility

In this article I explore, from a philosophical perspective, what the responsibility for biodiversity means. Biodiversity is a peculiar thing because it consists of the variety of life in its all manifestations, that is, in all its forms, levels and combinations. Variation is a main characteristic of life on earth. Because of its vastness a collective has not only a right but also a duty to take responsibility for biodiversity conservation, and furthermore it has a prima facie duty to implement those measures the accomplishment of this requires. This includes the appropriate legislative and policy means. My argument for collective responsibility is mainly based on contrafactual reasoning, that is, if a collective takes no responsibility for the conservation of biodiversity, then no one takes responsibility. Providing that species extinction is something we definitely want to avoid, collective responsibility is well founded.