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Trophy hunting: Role of consequentialism

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Science  25 Oct 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6464, pp. 432
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz4951

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  • The Ethics of Violent Conservation
    • Dan Brockington, Director, Sheffield Institute for International Development, University of Sheffield
    • Other Contributors:
      • Rosaleen Duffy, Professor of International Politics, University of Sheffield

    When Science published this letter by Guillaume Chaperon and José Vicente López-Bao it prompted a mixture of confusion, anger and dismay. On twitter several people suggested that it was actually probably just satire.1 When we explored it, and the authors’ other work, we found that it was a strange mixture of shoddy arguments, outlandish claims and flawed logic (Figure 1). Given the quality of the authors’ other research (which is good) we too suspected it was satire; Dan Brockington then tweeted a thread that explained why.2

    We presume that this reaction prompted Science and the authors to publish a correction two weeks after the letter was first published. We reproduce that correction in full below.

    Correction (11 November 2019): Our Letter “Trophy hunting: Role of consequentialism” (25 October, p. 432) was a response to Dickman et al.’s letter “Trophy hunting bans imperil biodiversity” (30 August, p. 874), which implied that even if trophy hunting is morally “repugnant,” it should be promoted in the interest of conserving biodiversity. That line of reasoning is entirely consequentialist (i.e., an action is judged by its outcome) and can be dangerous because it removes other types of ethical objections from consideration. We tried to illustrate this by demonstrating how it can be used to promote other actions also done for a conservation purpose and which also may be viewed as morally repugnant. Our Letter was deliberately provocative and blended credible...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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