Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment
Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment

Ethics in Environmental Research: Arguments for the Conservation of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Date: 20 September 2018
Location: UFZ Leipzig, Germany

Target audience

Doctoral and postdoctoral researchers


When scientists (and even more those who apply scientific knowledge) deal with nature conservation, with biodiversity, or with ecosystem services, they are dealing with fields that not only involve scientific knowledge but in which this knowledge is necessarily intertwined with various values dimensions.
The question why we should protect biodiversity and/or ecosystem services depends crucially on (often contested) values and the answers to this question have various ethical implications, both in terms of relations between humans and between humans and nature.

The course will start with the question why we should preserve biodiversity and nature, and then introduce some basic foundations of (environmental) ethics.
We will then discuss some current conflicts in which the relevance of ethical arguments (which are much more than arguments about the "intrinsic value" of nature) becomes visible, such as the question as to whether the protection of biodiversity and ecosystem services are synergistic or if/where they may be conflicting.
Furthermore, we will discuss issues of justice, which may arise in the context of the ecosystem services concept.
Overall, in the course we will explore ways to deal explicitly with the linkage between "facts" and values in the environmental sciences and how to systematically analyse environmental / conservation conflicts from an ethical perspective.

Didactic aim

After this course, participants will have basic knowledge on environmental ethics. They will be able to critically evaluate arguments for environmental protection and nature conservation, especially in terms of their value dimensions. They will have acquired skills to analyse environmental conflicts in a philosophically reflected manner and identify implicit values in environmental research.

> More information, Module 2018H-26

Former occurences of this course

  • 29 September 2016

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