The Ethics of De-Extinction

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38 Scopus citations

Abstract

“de-extinction” refers to the process of resurrecting extinct species by genetic methods. This science-fiction-sounding idea is in fact already in early processes of scientific implementation. Although this recent “revival of the dead” raises deep ethical questions, the ethics of de-extinction has barely received philosophical treatment. Rather than seeking a verdict for or against de-extinction, this paper attempts an overview and some novel analyses of the main ethical considerations. Five dimensions of the ethics of de-extinction are explored: (a) the possible contribution of de-extinction to promoting ecological values, (b) the deontological argument that we owe de-extinction to species we rendered extinct, (c) the question of “playing God” through de-extinction, (d) the utilitarian perspective, and (e) the role of aesthetic considerations in the ethics of de-extinction. A general feature arising from the paper’s discussion is that, due to de-extinction’s special character, it repeatedly tests the limits of our ethical notions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-178
Number of pages14
JournalNanoEthics
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2014

Keywords

  • Bioconservation
  • Biodiversity
  • Cloning
  • De-extinction
  • Environmental ethics
  • Genetic engineering
  • Respect for life
  • Species rights

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy
  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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