Nancy Heneson

Document Type

Editorial and Commentary

Publication Date



It is of course impossible to escape the notion of self-interest in our relationship with nature. In fact, it is "unnatural," if one understands (and, one is forced to say nowadays, believes in) evolution. However, there is no real justification for either disguising this as stewardship or perverting it into dominionism. Every organism has an impact on the environment, and it is not only idealistic but biologically nonsensical to argue that we should leave everything alone. However, when decisions on policy are made which direct the future use of land, plants and animals, at least let the rationale not be shrouded in a popular but essentially false equation of nature with a possession, a legacy or a right. What we do to or for the land, we do out of selfinterest, enlightened or not, and not to fulfill an inherited right. There are some things, no matter to what degree we enslave them, that can never be truly owned.