Questions on Readings on Meaning and Value of the Natural

1.         Identify two distinct meanings of “natural” and do so by identifying their contrasts (natural as opposed to .......)

2.         In what sense of “natural” is it true to say that everything humans do is natural? In what sense of “natural” is if foolish to say that everything humans do is natural?

3.         In what sense of “natural” does the natural come in degrees? Give examples of items in increasing degrees of naturalness.

4.         Evaluate the following claim: If X is natural, then this guarantees that X is good or morally right. Give some examples that should make one worry about this claim.

5.         Give some examples that should make one skeptical of the idea that humans should look to animal behavior as a model for how we should live and act. Is nature a good guide for “family value?”

6.         Describe the ways in which Niagra Falls is unnatural. Should this make it any less appealing to the informed visitor? Explain and evaluate the idea that “we are nature and it is us” and the related idea that “in our live alone does nature live.” Does Niagra falls support these ideas?

7.         Is species extinction forever? What is “de-extinction?” How is it suppose to work?

8.         What is the difference between native species and non-native (exotic) species? Why are non-natives often called “introduced” species? Is the native/non-native distinction the same as the non-invasive/invasive distinction? Identify one non-native species that has been problematic and one that has possibly been beneficial. What are some of the objections raised to the typical environmental policy of vigorously identifying and eradicating non-natives species? Should we judge species based on their origin?

9.         What is the National Park Services Policy that explains why it objected to snowmobilers attempt to rescue a drowning bison? Evaluate this policy from your own perspective. Should the National Parks have a policy of letting nature takes its course in the Parks?

10.       Explain the idea that we now live in the “anthropocene.” Evaluate the claim that “this is the earth we have created and we must manage it with love and care” and “create new glories” rather than impossibly trying to restore nature to a mythical pristine (never-touched-by-man) state. Is the “anthropocene” something to be celebrated or bemoaned? Is the ideal of pristine wilderness a useful, helpful one that we should continue to value or one we need to reject?

11.       Why might someone argue there is no nature left on earth? What definition of nature does this involve? Is this a plausible understanding of nature?

12.       Should humans manage nature (or “manage Planet Earth”)? What reasons are there for thinking we should not do so? What are the reasons for thinking we have no choice but to do so? What reasons are their for thinking this involves a contradiction (e.g., a human managed natural area). Consider the idea that we should manage ourselves rather than nature.

13.       If humans were offered a ring (by the gods) that would allow us to totally manage all of nature (including human nature), should we accept that ring?