The preservation paradox and natural capital

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4 Scopus citations


Many ecological economists have argued that some natural capital should be preserved for posterity. Yet, among environmental philosophers, the preservation paradox entails that preserving parts of nature, including the items denoted by natural capital, is impossible. The paradox suggests that nature is a realm of phenomena independent of intentional human agency, and that preserving and restoring nature require intentional human agency. Therefore, no one can preserve or restore nature (without making it artificial). While this article argues that the preservation paradox is more difficult to resolve than ordinarily recognized, it also concludes by sketching a positive way forward to understand what it means to preserve natural capital during the Anthropocene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101058
JournalEcosystem Services
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • Anthropocene
  • Artificial/natural distinction
  • Causation
  • Natural capital
  • Preservation paradox

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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