Animal Studies Bibliography

Lo, Yeuk-Sze. 1999. Natural and Artifactual: Restored Nature as Subject.
Environmental Ethics 21(?): 247-266.

In this article the author claims that Eric Katz's work advocates a moral dualism between the natural and the artifactual, according to which natural entities on the one hand and artifacts on the other hand are two radically separated ethical domains, members of the former being morally superior to members of the latter (p. 247). Lo looks at Katz's ontological account of artifacts, his idea of the assimilation of restored natural entities to artifacts, and his argument about the moral dualism between the natural and artifactual (p. 248). Lo argues that Katz's ideas of assimilation and moral dualism do not work if looked at in terms of his ontological account. Lo also claims that the logic Katz uses to support his view of human restoration is unethical.

Lo first describes Katz's ontological account. He finds that Katz views artifacts as designed by humans, created, or named, solely for the purposes of humans. Lo asserts that (in Katz's view) the existence of artifacts does not simply exhibit human intention in generalartifacts can only be understood as instruments produced for the betterment of human life. In other words, human purpose is the final cause of artifacts, and this final cause is always anthropocentric (p. 249).

Lo discusses restored natural entities, which is described as restoration that involves human activity aimed at assisting the healing of damage that has occurred to nature (p. 250). Lo claims that Katz sees this as a harmful process through which humans make artifacts. Lo states that Katz regards human activity that goes beyond our biological and evolutionary capacities as unnatural because it involves human manipulation and control. Accordingly, he defines natural as a term used to designate objects and processes that exist as far as possible from human manipulation and control (p. 250). Katz sees this human control as always resulting in the production of an artifact.

Lo attacks Katz for believing that human intervention in nature is necessarily anthropocentric. Lo also points out that human intervention does not always involve control, but can entail cooperation between human and animal (p. 251). He claims that this intervention is not inherently destructive; it does not always take away all natural characteristics of nature.

Lo asserts that human interaction with nature is not always motivated purely by a human need, and thus is not always anthropocentric. He states that the ontological dependence of restored natural creatures and systems on human technology is only partialthey are also ontologically dependent on their own biological capacities (p. 254). Lo also addresses the idea of autonomy, arguing that because an animal is disempowered by human technology does not take away its biological capability to be autonomous. He claims that if a restored member of a species can survive and develop by itself as competently as a wild member of the species does, then it is just as autonomous, biologically speaking, as the wild one, despite the fact that its autonomy had once been restricted during the early stages of restoration that involved a human setting and control (p. 255).

Lo examines Katz's idea that all artifacts are ontologically dependent on human design in the sense that all of them are designed by humans (p. 256). Lo argues that humans can be seen as copiers, rather than designers. He claims that humans are merely trying to copy a previous natural state when they restore nature, hence, the outcome of the human restoration of nature is a copy of what has been lost in nature, instead of a human design (p. 257). In this way, Lo shows that not all artifacts are designed objects (p. 257).

Katz's moral dualism depicts humans and natural entities as being superior to artifacts. He is quoted as stating that 'artifacts must be treated as means, for their existence and value only exist in a dependent relationship with human aims and goals; but natural entities, existing apart from human projects, can be considered as ends-in-themselves' (p. 260). Lo finds several problems with this logic. Because humans merely seek to copy some natural design, the way that the restored nature differs from the previous design is not intentional. As Lo argues, what one has created is not necessarily what one intended to create (p. 262). He also brings up the idea of an inherent biological autonomy again. He claims that whether the human purpose of restoring nature is anthropocentric or not, the being of restored natural creatures and systems, like that of wild ones, will always have a nonanthropocentric dimension due to their intrinsic functionlessness and autonomyHence, for those who celebrate autonomy as a morally relevant quality, the conceptual boundary between the natural and the artifactual could not be consistently taken as a strict moral boundary (p. 263).

Lo then goes on to argue that nature restoration should not be seen as harmful to the environment or as necessarily selfishly motivated behavior. He believes that it can be a positive process that benefits both humans and animals.


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