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Humans in nature: The world as we find it and the world as we create it
Date:1/27/2014

People are increasingly concerned about the extent to which technology enables us to alter nature: causing the extinction of plants and animals, genetically modifying crops and livestock, using synthetic biology to engineer organisms for human benefit, and enhancing athletic performance and other aspects of human nature.

Underlying each of these concerns is an intuition that a natural state of affairs should be preserved for its own sake because it has intrinsic moral significance. Does it? How far should public policy go to preserve nature? And is there even an agreed-upon definition of "natural?"

These questions are central to Humans in Nature: The World as We Find it and the World as We Create It, a new book by Gregory E. Kaebnick, a research scholar at The Hastings Center and editor of the Hastings Center Report. The book was published by Oxford University Press.

Debates about nature are highly polarized. On one side are those who believe that concerns about altering nature are profoundly important; on the other side are those who argue that such concerns are irrational, even incoherent. This book marks out a middle way "to provide a way of thinking about the human relationship to nature that neither leaves all objections to altering nature standing nor wipes them all off the table as illegitimate."

The book begins by exploring the question, "What is natural?" The answer is not as simple as it seems. "The world as found and the world as created or altered can be hard to tease apart," Kaebnick writes. "Is the tallgrass prairie 'natural,' or does the fact that human beings maintain it by regularly
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Contact: Susan Gilbert
gilberts@thehastingscenter.org
845-424-4040 x244
The Hastings Center
Source:Eurekalert

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