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School of Environment and Natural Resources


Benjamin Wickizer's Graduate Defense Seminar

Dec 17, 2015, 1:00pm - 2:00pm

Benjamin Wickizer, MS Candidate in Environmental Social Sciences, will present Are Wildlife Good in Themselves? An Empirical Exploration into the Prevalence and Features of the Belief that Wildlife Possess Iintrinsic Value as his Graduate Defense Seminar in 460 Kottman Hall.

Intrinsic value has been the focus of philosophers’ inquiries in numerous contexts. In the case of wildlife, environmental ethicists have offered a variety of frameworks asserting that species possess value outside of the utility they offer humans, although there is contention within the field as to these claims. However, wildlife’s intrinsic value has received minimal attention outside of the normative approach taken by environmental ethics. Thus, little is understood about intrinsic value in the context of conservation from a social psychological perspective. 
Using a national data sample from the United States, this study addresses four research questions: 1) What is the prevalence of the belief that wildlife possess intrinsic value? 2) Is the belief that wildlife possess intrinsic value separate and distinct from existing measures of wildlife value orientation (i.e., mutualism)? 3) Does the belief that wildlife possess intrinsic value help explain other wildlife-related judgments? 4) What social and demographic factors are associated with the belief that wildlife possess intrinsic value?
The study found that a majority of the public (69%) holds the belief that wildlife possess intrinsic value; that intrinsic-value belief is distinct from wildlife value orientation; that intrinsic-value belief is associated with other wildlife-related judgments; and that most social and demographic factors have minimal direct association with intrinsic-value belief.