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.         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?

7.         Describe what the Aspen Art Institute did with Desert Tortoises at the opening reception. Was it wrong to use the tortoises in that way? Why or why not? Let’s say that it did not physically hurt them. Is it still wrong or inappropriate? Why or why not?

8.         Describe the ways in which Niagara 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?

9.         What are Bill McKibben’s reasons for claiming we are at the “end of nature?” What does he mean by nature? Is he right?