Trophy hunting and conservation: do the major ethical theories converge in opposition to trophy hunting?

Published online
27 Oct 2021
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
People and Nature

Ghasemi, B.
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Ethical concerns are at the heart of the ongoing debate on trophy hunting; however, so far, most studies have addressed the issue from a single ethical perspective. These studies, approaching the subject from different ethical perspectives, have reached different conclusions. For instance, those who support trophy hunting as a conservation strategy usually adopt a utilitarian perspective, while those who adopt a deontological perspective usually oppose it. The analysis presented in this paper challenges the ethical justification of trophy hunting based on a utilitarian perspective, and it also suggests that trophy hunting is problematic from the perspectives of both deontology and virtue theory. This paper supports a version of Bryan Norton's 'convergence hypothesis' (Norton, 1991). Although holism and anthropocentrism in environmental ethics are usually presented as fundamentally opposed views, Norton argued that their conclusions for policy converge, at least when a sufficiently broad and long-range view of human interests are considered. Analogously, this paper proposes that, regarding trophy hunting, the implications of three major traditional perspectives in ethics (i.e. utilitarianism, deontology and virtue theory) may converge in opposition to the practice of trophy hunting. The final section of this paper recommends some ways authorities and policymakers can address these ethical concerns and presents a view of the future.

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