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eng112 100830 Homework

Posted in eng112 by bnmng on 2010 08/30


ENG 111 Homework for Wednesday, September 1 2010-08-30
Benjamin Goldberg
Yes, although not necessarily “our species” but any other creature capable of marveling at the world’s diversity. Should Humans succeed in wiping ourselves out, we may eventually be replaced by another. In the absence of any such appreciative being and in the absence of any possibility that such a creature might appear, than there would be no value to preserving biodiversity. Cave’s position is hard to discern because he qualifies every statement with counterpoint and can’t seem to come to a conclusion about anything. I think that if he came to a decision about what he believes, he would decide that without anyone to appreciate or benefit from the existence of a certain species, than there would be no reason for that species to exist.

A species is not a living entity. It is a group of separate individuals. Although we often refer to the opinion of a group, (ie the “Democrats believe this, Republicans say that”) it is just shorthand for the majority, or an agreed upon representation, of that group. The group itself is not an entity. In this case, Cave merely assumes the obvious, which is that all members of a species are not linked by some Star Wars like “force” which gives the species a separate life of its own.

This essay provides almost no information that can be used in a decision about saving the Jerboa. Without knowing what the cause of the Jerboa’s endangerment is, and without knowing what value the Jerboa has humans, it is impossible to profess an intelligent opinion.
As a philosophical exercise, it might be valuable to explore the question of whether or not humans should be concerned about saving a species with no known or likely value to us and is endangered due to no fault of our own. In that case, there is no reason we should be concerned beyond a mild interest. Species appear and disappear. It is not our responsibility to save every species and we will likely do more harm than good if we try.
Similarly, even if we are responsible for the destruction of a species, that has no value to us, I would caution against trying to save that species as well. The danger in this case is not in losing a valueless species, but in missing the value of a species that we deem worthless. To some extent, all species have some value because they add to the diversity of our world. Whenever we discover that our actions have endangered a species, we should see that as a diminishment of the world’s diversity. In some cases, it may be inevitable. Human activity exists, and even if we are careful and concerned, we will cause some damage. In each case, the effort to mitigate that damage must be weighed against the advantages of the activity which is causing that damage.
Although Mr. Cave deliberately leaves out the cause of the Jerboa’s endangerment, the jerboa is endangered, in part, by human activity. While there are no known tangible benefits that the jerboa provides, it is an adorable creature and it’s nice to know that such a thing exists and that is possible to occasionally see pictures and read stories about it. For these reasons, I am mildly concerned for the jerboa. I would, perhaps, donate a small amount of money to an organization committed to its survival. There are also other reasons for concern. Lessening and compensating for the environmental damage that humans cause, is good for a multitude of species including our own. So saving the jerboa means saving many things. It is therefore worth doing so.

The damage that we have caused in the last hundred years has outweighed the good, but the communication and information technology that has appeared in the last thirty years will pave the way to make things better than they ever were. A more obvious example of how information and communications technology provides hope for the future despite the fact that our destructive habits have caused more harm than good is war. War has been a part of all of human history, and with each generation our ability to cause damage increases. But television played a part in ending the Vietnam war. For the first time, citizens of the world became intimately familiar with the details of war, and many people, who otherwise would have ignored it, found it too hard to do so. Technology gives us the means to exchange information and ideas. We are, for the most part, a moral and righteous species even though we are prone to and capable of horrific acts. We are in danger of destroying everything we know, but we also have the means to prevent ourselves from doing so. I have faith in us.

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