Science denialism and compassionate conservation: Response to Wallach et al. 2018

Don A. Driscoll, Maggie J. Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)


As articulated by Wallach et al. (2018), “compassion-ate conservation” draws on conceptual foundations ofvirtue ethics (e.g., tenet 4 “peaceful coexistence”), aconsequentialist animal ethic such as welfarism (e.g.,tenet 1 “do no harm” and minimizing suffering) and animal rights perspectives (e.g., rejection of utilitarianism) (Bekoff 2010). Culling feral animals contravenes these tenets of compassionate conservation because culling demands a non peaceful action that causes harm to individual animals. Taking this call to adopt compassionate conservation to its logical conclusion, a conclusion that Wallach et al. promotes, demands a complete halt to lethal control of invasive vertebrates (e.g., use of 1080 bait on Gough Island) (Marris 2018), which would accelerate global homogenization and biodiversity loss. We considered key points of the ethical debate around culling that Wallach et al. neglected in their article and used case studies to illustrate that compassionate conservation offers extreme trade-offs that are neither compassionate nor conservation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)777-780
Number of pages4
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Jan 2019

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