Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Philosophy

Committee Chair

Deborah Slicer

Commitee Members

Dan Spencer, Albert Borgmann, Christopher Preston


ecological restoration, care ethics


University of Montana


Ecological restoration is defined by the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) as “the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged or destroyed” (9). In practice, restoration typically involves the removal of pollution, human-made structures (like dams or roads), invasive species, and other impediments to ecological health. Removing the sources of ecological impairment is coupled with the reintroduction of flora, fauna, and the physical structures that are necessary for healthy ecosystem function. The potential for restoration to dominate nature is a concern of environmental ethicists. In theory, domination might stem from the technology used in restoration or the presence and expression of human intentions and ideals. But are such concerns apparent in restored sites? Theoretical concerns about domination of nature and other issues in restoration must be grounded in the realities of ecological restoration as it is practiced. Connecting theory to practice allows us to better understand how the concerns of the philosopher can be perceived and addressed by the practitioners of restoration. I argue that the ethics of care, and my care perspective that I develop, provide unique insights into the issue of domination in restoration. I apply the relational context and alternative perspectives on autonomy, the self, and universal versus contextual moral principles that care brings to the issues in restoration. In doing so, I argue that my care perspective gives a better account of ecosystem autonomy (as it relates to domination), questions the ecosystems as moral entities with a unified set of interests, and a way to understand partiality or favoritism as a morally acceptable way to make difficult decisions in restoration.



© Copyright 2014 Daniel Avery Congdon