Philosophy of Faking Nature

Categories: Endangered Species

Philosopher Robert Elliot introduces his theory of natural value exploring the ethics of restoration in the environment. Restoration thesis is a full recreation of something equal to objects of value. ‘’Faking Nature’’ offers Elliot’s rejections to this thesis. For that reason, he sums up the advantages and disadvantages of restoration and how humans impact curves the world. He states that no technology or engineering can redo nature’s creation. Elliot states that most of the restoration projects are unsuccessful, and they fail to complete predicted changes to an area.

Places that undergo any kind of recreation are not as valuable as untouched nature. Hence, he offers a useful list of reasons why the environment is important: diversity, plant and animal life, endangered species and many more. Then, Elliot attacks the restoration thesis and offers several artificial and natural cases and experiments that reflect and support his historical view.

One argument is the existence of nature by itself.

Environment holds a specific value and importance as long as it\'s not modified by the human hand.

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Aesthetics of the nature compared with engineering work is not the same but can trick people to find different kinds of settings. The case of John Muir and the Hetch Hetchy Valley shows a place where Muir could find primeval nature, untouched by human hand and eternal beauty. But if we analyze his presence in that environment, Muir’s appreciation for the nature fades because its recreated by the human hand. The understanding is that the environment is not curved by mother nature and provokes Muir to lose his love towards the place. Elliot states that natural means something unmodified by humans, and those areas pose a level of naturalness, and contrary to that, rural land is a non- natural example. However, he separates natural and non- natural and states that natural doesn’t always mean that is good or non- natural doesn’t always mean that is bad. But the fact that something is not replicated makes it more valuable.

Elliot compares nature to art with additional few examples which help us understand why replicated natural environment is not good enough even if its recreated with the greatest detail. The garden sculpture case poses a promise from a council engineer that the sculpture replaced with the the exact artifact does not hold that significance because lacks the original value of the sculpture. Genesis is present when Vermeer painting for birthday present disappoints and is less valuable because it is the exact replica of previously destroyed original painting. Another example is when an object created of bones of someone killed ceases the value of the object. These examples support his claim that certain things value more because of their origin, and recreation can absolutely never value the same as the original.

The biggest objection to his view in my opinion is the natural provenance as value- adding versus all things- considered natural value. With respect to Elliot view, the question to how much the value of an object or the value of a nature is explained with its genesis and history. Elliot’s defender will give an example of a beautiful restored area which loses its value if we realize that our admiration was for something created by humans. As soon as we figure out its origin and historical significance, as Elliot argues, values towards unnatural things pose lower on the scale of values. Elliot defenders will explain how history can change our view. His anecdote about a stand of mountain ash explains how admiration for the place is not the same after finding out that the place is a replica of a burned forest. Knowing that the forests is not naturally evolved, causes rejection in human’s eye. Another objection is the distinction between natural and unnatural. No area in the world can be considered free of human hand, or free of any kind of interference. An example for that can be climate change and its impacts. Almost all areas surrounding are touched by people in some way. However, Elliot’s defender would state that the value is higher if it’s created naturally.

He explains this a spectrum and not as a strict line, stating that some areas are more modified, and some are less. Overall, key aspects with all things considered combine a clear objection to ecological restoration. He supports his historical view because every object is valuable because of its origin. Artificial and nature cases have explanatory power of his opinion. Another key aspect is the distinction between natural and non- natural environment. Natural versus replicated environment is not the same even biggest effort is engaged, or highest detail placed into something.

More or less, knowledge is crucial in understanding Robert Elliot’s view because people who study the area of history would have the biggest understanding of what human interference means to biodiversity and natural world, and how origin affects the uniqueness and complexity of this matter. As the author says, there is always a possibility for a trained eye to tell the difference between fake and natural. Elliot succeeds to explain his arguments toward restoration thesis. Origin and history are a key to his explanation. Origin help us judge the valuations we make or help us alter the way we recognize and perceive history. Just like no forests are alike, no replicated nature is same as its original. He doubts the moral part of restoration polices and poses his main concept that any kind of restoration is not natural. The biggest take away from his essay is that replicated environments can never possess the same qualities as untouched nature. Faking nature is not possible at all.

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Philosophy of Faking Nature. (2021, Oct 31). Retrieved from

Philosophy of Faking Nature
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