Volume 7, Issue 2, Summer 1985
Fact and Value in Ecological Science
Ecologists may apply their science either to manage ecosystems to increase the long-run benefits nature offers man or to protect ecosystems from anthropogenie insults and injuries. Popular reasons for supposing that these two tasks (management and protection) are complementary turn out not to be supported by the evidence. Nevertheless, society recognizes the protection of the “health” and “integrity” of ecosystems to be an important ethical and cultural goal even if it cannot be backed in detail by utilitarian or prudential arguments. It is a legitimate purpose of ecological science, moreover, to describe and help society preserve ecosystem “health” and “integrity,” insofar as these are considered as privative qualities.