Eric Katz

Further Adventures in the Case against Restoration



         a.      “The Big Lie:  The Human Restoration of Nature” (1992)

         b.      Position not really changed in this new paper

2.      Restoration is a troubling contemporary environmental policy

         a.      Even environmentalists think it is good

         b.      This is mistake

         c.      And belief in restoration undermines the attempt to preserve and protect nature

3.      Restoration is a myth

         a.      Restoration projects claim (but fail) to

                   i.       Repair damage done     

                   ii.      Heal nature’s wounds and make nature whole again

4.      Instead of making nature whole again

         a.      “Restoration is like putting a piece of furniture over a stain in the carpet”

5.      Two Things Wrong with Restoration

         a.      The act of restoration itself is morally troubling and its consequences are morally troubling

6.      One: Act is morally problematic: It’s domination

         a.      Fulfills the dream of human domination of nature

         b.      Our mastery of nature shown by our ability to restore and repair degraded ecosystems

         c.      Restoration is part of grand human project to control the natural world and in so doing destroy the autonomy of nature, which is a chief element of its value–a wild separate other

         d.      The underlying assumption of this scientific and technological project is that humanity can control and direct natural processes to better effect than nature can

                   i.       The belief that we can do a better job of restoring nature after our degradation of it, than if we allow nature to come back on its own

7.      Two: Results of restoration problematic because it produces an artifact

         a.      Restoration results in an artifact, not a natural object

         b.      A restored nature is an anthropocentrically (human-centered) designed human artifact

         c.      "We humans interrupt the natural development of an area and modify it to meet human goals and ideals. We attempt to mold the natural system to meet our needs—needs that may be economic, political, scientific, cultural, or aesthetic. We turn nature into an artifact created for human purposes"

8.      Katz on whether we should restore: Ambiguous, probably frequently yes

         a.      There are good reasons for restoration that can justify it

         b.      But the meaning of what we have done needs to be understood

         c.      “Nothing I have said in this essay should be taken as an endorsement of actions that . . . injure areas of the natural environment and leave them in a damaged state. I believe, for example, that Exxon should attempt to clean up and restore the Alaskan waterways and land that was harmed by its corporate negligence. The point of my argument is that we must not misunderstand what we are doing when we attempt to restore... It is a compromise. We are not restoring nature . . . but making the best of a bad situation and cleaning up our mess”



         a.      Elliot's mining case

         b.      Picking up trash

         c.      Cleaning up a polluted river (“remediation”)

         d.      Exotic removal                                

         e.      Removing dams

         f.       Restoring species

         g.      Replanting areas

10.    Two aggressive restorations that best fit Katz’s negative attitude about restoration

         a.      One: Cherry Creek Montana restoration of Westslope Cutthroat Trout: Poison all the Brown and Rainbow Trout and introduce the Westslope Cutthroat

11.    Two: Cap Sauers Savannah Restoration in Illinois sponsored by the Nature Conservancy

         a.      From Mendelson et al. “Carving up the Woods: Savannah Restoration in NE Illinois”

         b.      Restorationists are using fire, saws, herbicide to remove under story of native and exotic species to increase oak reproduction so as to have a savannah (prairie with some trees)

         c.      History of Cap Sauers area

                   i.       Area settled and cut 1840

                   ii.      Fire suppression began

                   iii.     Tall canopy trees (mainly oaks) started growing from 1840 to 1880/1900

                   iv.     Today they are 100-165years old

                   v.      Grazing began around 1900 and ended around 1940

                            (1)    So few trees grew during that period and so few 105-65 year old trees today

                   vi.     Since 1940, under story trees have grown (maple, young oaks, hawthorns) due to recovery from grazing

                   vii.    This 50 year old growth being removed

         d.      Critique

                   i.       Wrong place for savannah restoration;

                            (1)    Region probably not oak savannah before European settlement

                            (2)    Trying to put a savannah in a woodland setting: Soil, topography, moisture suits it for woods, not savannah

                            (3)    Restorationists/managers shoving land in direction it does not tend toward, but one they want there

                   ii.      What restorationists are destroying is more natural than what they are creating

                            (1)    The under story (shrub-sapling layer, including native species like basswood, black cherry, hawthorn, maple) is a healthy recovery from grazing, not unnatural growth that must be removed

                            (2)    Mature canopy trees (oaks) not product of savannah, but of human cutting and fire suppression

                   iii.     Techniques being used are unnatural

                            (1)    Intensity and frequency of burns is unnatural

                            (2)    Use of toxic chemicals unnatural (one should never use them in a natural area?)

                            (3)    Eradicating natives, not just human-introduced exotics

                   iv.     Product of this restoration effort is a human-constructed artificial landscape

                            (1)    One that reflects the values of restorers

                            (2)    Resembles no natural community they are familiar with

                            (3)    A museum piece; trying to freeze frame nature



13.    Restorations are hybrid systems as contain some natural entities

         a.      "This means that a project of ecological restoration is not really the restoration of a natural system; it is the creation of an artifact, an artifactual system. Within this system there will be natural entities—so we may be able to call it a hybrid system—but the system as a whole will be the artifactual product of human intentionality and design, created for a human purpose."

14.    Restoration tactics are more or less natural

         a.      Using a fence to build a dune by catching wind blown sand is more natural then using a bulldozer

         b.      Presumably this means the result is less an artifact?

15.    Cleaning pollution from a stream does not produce an artifact? (See below)

16.    Artifactuality of restorations are a matter of degree



18.    Gardens and restoration: Denies that restoration creates a positive relationship with nature, for it is like gardening; which is controlling and creating an artifact

         a.      May get positive experiences working in a garden, but not positive experience of working with nature as gardens are not a natural area

                   i.       Why have such a sharp natural/artifactual line? Aren't gardens relatively natural?

         b.      Working in a garden not authentic experience of nature, but furthers human worldview of domination

         c.      Teaches us how control natural processes and convert them into an artifactual human project designed to serve human purposes                                              

19.    Restoring for nature’s good: Can’t we restore nature for nature’s good, not our good?

         a.      Restore bamboo forest for Pandas?

         b.      Katz reply: There is always an indirect human purpose/benefit behind these examples

                   i.       To see Pandas

         c.      Perhaps, but that would fail to show nature’s good is not a consideration at all or only a minor one

20.    Nature regains its autonomy: When we restore, we are helping nature come back on its own autonomously, and so restorations are not artifacts

         a.      Katz reply: but it will always be different

         b.      But why would this show it is an artifact?

21.    Because restorations attempt to bring back a natural historical pattern, they are copying nature, not designing it

         a.      So these restorations are not designed by humans and thus not artifacts

         b.      Katz reply:

                   i.       Design does not require novelty

                   ii.      The copy is itself defined/planned; acts of restorationists not simply random

                   iii.     Restore projects are intentionally planned human activities follow design to reach goal, and they produce an artifact

         c.      There is design in sense of human planning, but the pattern to be produced is not designed–here humans are following nature

         d.      Big difference between restoring nature to previous state and taking a damaged area and inventing and placing there some new functional ecosystem according to human design

22.    Restoration projects like children: created to autonomously do their own thing

         a.      Katz allows that not all intentional creations are artifacts

                   i.       Planned pregnancies, children, and human friendships not artifacts

                   ii.      So intentionality (though necessary for being an artifact, is not sufficient)

                   iii.     Intentionality is not even necessary if we accept a pile of trash on side of road as an artifact

         b.      Like children, restorations become their own autonomous beings

         c.      Katz reply:

                   i.       Restorationists are not like normal parents who create children and let them become what they want

                   ii.      Rather they are like parents who deliberately mold their children to become certain types of specially talented people (pianists, tennis players)

                            (1)    Treat children as objects, artifacts, to fulfil the parents own needs

         d.      Mightn't it depend on how restorationists treat the nature they restored after it has been restored? Do they managing and manipulate it or do they let it go?


23.    Siipi’s criteria for artifactuality (need all three)

         a.      (One) Intentional modification by humans

                   i.       Not enough, adding one sunflower to a field does not make it an artifact

                   ii.      Side effects of human activities (not intended, are not artifacts)

                            (1)    So trash pile on side of road is not an artifact on this account

         b.      (Two) Must cause it to exist (by having certain properties)

                   i.       Polluted stream modified by humans not an artifact as we did not cause it to come into existence

         c.      (Three) Must give the thing a new function

                   i.       Stream whose pollution is remediated does not have a new function so not an artifact (this seems like a big concession and perhaps incompatible with what else he says)

                   ii.      Beautiful stone we use as paperweight has a new function but we did not cause it to exist (Is it an artifact?)

         d.      Katz believes Siipi’s criteria support his view restorations are artifacts

                   i.       Why?

                   ii.      Replanted forest has new function? To atone for human destruction?



25.    Necessary for any meaningful philosophical or policy analysis of ethics of environmentalism

         a.      “There can be no denial that this distinction exists and forms basis of our thoughts regarding the environment”

         b.      Plumwood: “Without some distinction between nature and culture, humans and nature, it becomes very difficult to present any defense against the total humanization of the world.”

         c.      I’d distinguish between distinction and a “dualism”

26.    Ordinary language use of nature to mean the non-human

         a.      “I love nature” as I gesture to trees around, does not mean I love the human built environment

         b.      Odd

                   i.       Looking at a photo of Times Square and saying I do nature photography

                   ii.      Pointing to a computer and saying it is amazing what nature can do

27.    Dualism of nature/artifact thus does not need to be defended it is presupposed in any discussion of natural environment

28.    “To deny existence of real distinct from human action is to play havoc with our language, science, and conceptual framework of the world and denies existence of values recognized by all enviros, values of the natural world”



30.    Jenkins criticism of Katz as allowing only two extremes in our relation to nature

         a.      His problematic dualism is limiting metaphors of human agency to two kinds

         b.      Either

                   i.       Either we preserve the integrity of nature by letting it be

                   ii.      Or we violate it by acting and interfering with natural systems

         c.      And there have to be other ways to think about human relations to nature

31.    Katz defines environmentalism as excluding concern for human environments, urban environments

         a.      “The world of nonhuman natural the world that environmentalists wish to preserve and protect”



33.    “I have argued that the recognition of the human-nature dualism provides a solid reason for rejecting the project of ecological restoration, a policy that encourages the total humanization of the natural world.

         a.      Essential artifactuality of products of the restoration process

34.    Katz does not make a “blanket condemnation of restoration”

         a.      Artifcatualizaing an area via restoration does not mean policy is evil or that the policy should be prohibited

         b.      Rather insists we need to recognize human influence in that area.

35.    Stain in carpet idea:

         a.      Yes should clean it up or cover it with the couch

         b.      But better to prevent it in first place

36.    So restoration projects are often better than nothing

37.    But must remember these projects are generally on the far extreme side of spectrum near extreme artifactuality

38.    If we restore it will bring a new entity into existence with a new and different function

         a.      We will be creating a landscape we humans wish to see in the world

         b.      End result will be more pleasing world, maybe even better world

         c.      But a world that “reveals the imprint of human intentionality and design”

39.    I think this worry gives too much power to human intentionality and design and in that sense is anthropocentric

         a.      Very much like the anthropocene boosters problem what nature is gone as we have affected everything

         b.      Puts too much emphasis in the power of humanity to change the nature of things and ignores nature’s ongoing power/autonomy

Question on Katz's "Further Adventures in the Case against Restoration"

1.         What are the two types of reason Katz gives for opposing restoration? (Hint: They have to do with the act of restoration and the result of restoration.)

2.         Define the notion of an “artifact” the way Katz defines it. Is Katz’s account of artifacts a good one?

3.         Are there human artifacts that were not intentionally designed? Are all things intentionally designed by a human properly conceived as artifacts?

4.         What does it mean to claim artifacts are “anthropocentric?” Must all artifacts be anthropocentric? Why or why not?

5.         Does Katz think we should restore damaged ecosystems? (See his conclusion at the end.) Is his view on this plausible given what he says about the nature of restorations?

6.         Is gardening a positive way of relating to nature? Is restoration like gardening? Are gardens artifacts? What does Katz think about these matters?

7.         Does Katz think we can restore for nature’s own good? Why or why not?

8.         Why might one think that restoration is a copying of nature rather than a designing of nature?

9.         How does Katz respond to the idea that restorations are like children in the sense that we produce them and then they autonomously do their own thing?

10.       Katz describes Helena Siipi’s view that artifacts have three dimensions. What are they and do they support Katz’s idea that restorations are artifacts?

11.       Is Katz right that the “conceptual distinction/dualism between humans and nature” is absolutely essential for thinking clearly and appropriately about the environment?

12.       Give examples of ordinary language that supports the distinction between humans and nature or human activity and the activity of nonhumans.