Extinction in Hawai'i

Aloha, Poʻouli ( NYT reg. req.)

The article mentions in passing the threat of the brown tree snake from Guam poses to Hawaiʻian wildlife, but doesn't say nearly enough about it. You can find out more from the USGS site The Brown Tree Snake on Guam. They have been known to enter the wheelwells of aircraft (usually military) on Guam and survive the flight to Hickam AFB on Oahu, only to descend and escape into the environment. It's disgraceful, though unsurprising, that more isn't being done to prevent snake species from establishing themselves in Hawaiʻi. Even with greater intervention, however, it seems likely that it will happen eventually.

This has some bearing on ethics, for this is one of those cases where I tend to think we have a moral/ethical obligation to act, even though our actions are unlikely to actualize — or, in this case, maintain — our preferred state of affairs. Consequentialism has it's limits (and they're reached in far more obviously significant cases than this).

Embracing consequentialism wholeheartedly is to confuse of a very good way of determining how we should act with what constitutes right action; a similar confusion occurs in epistemological reliabilism: the reliability of a method may be a good indicator of when we have knowledge (or are entitled to a knowledge claim), but it isn't constitutive of knowledge itself. These are confusions of a tool with the purposes to which it is put.


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