Volume 23, 2008
Philosophy of Environment
Ecological Restoration as Moral Reparation
The notion of reparation in ethical, political and legal discourse has become popular in recent years. Reparation refers to a category of actions for which there are morally compelling reasons to perform due to wrongful action in the past. ‘Reparation’ is often, but not merely, used in the context of collective responsibility. The debate around the concept has mainly focussed on humans, but the wrongs done to humans can be indirect, such as contaminating the soil or polluting the air, in cases of which the quality of human life has been significantly deteriorated. In the paper, it will be examined whether the concept of reparation is applicable to characterise our responsibilities to the rest of nature? And can ecological restoration be understood as an exemplification of reparation? In restoration,
ecological system or natural landscape returned to some historically existed condition. In the context of reparations, the scope of concern would be limited to those changes that involve human presence or activity. Reparation is to be understood as corrective action when one has done something wrong. Ecological restoration aims to restore a situation that has prevailed at some point earlier. To say that ecological restoration is also moral reparation, we must assume
that nature or non-human entities and processes be wronged in the morally relevant sense. There are, of course, reasons for being sceptical over this assumption and its practical implications.