Environmental Paradigms, Biodiversity Conservation, and Critical Systems Thinking

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In 1994 Gerald Midgley addressed the issue of the boundary implications of two different paradigms of thought about the environment, namely, “humanis” and “the ecological perspective” The distinction that he makes is important because it draws attention to the value implications of an uncritical acceptance of boundaries around human interests that serves to marginalize the environment. It is argued here, however, that Midgley does not go far enough. Just as an uncritical acceptance of “humanis” marginalizes the environment, so an uncritical acceptance of the “environmental perspectiv” runs the risk of prioritizing some elements of the environment over others, e.g., the interests of individual animals over species or over ecosystems. This paper seeks to correct this limitation in Midgley's account by developing a more sophisticated framework of environmental paradigms: a framework that can be used to clarify the values of stakeholders in critical systems interventions involving the management of biodiversity.

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