Conservation Floors and Degradation Ceilings uri icon



  • U.S. conservation policy, both in structure and in practice, places a heavy burden on conservationists to halt development projects, rather than on advocates of development to defend their proposed actions. In this paper, we identify this structural phenomenon in several landmark environmental policies and in practice in the contemporary debate concerning oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The burdens placed on conservation can be understood in terms of constraints—as conservation ‘floors’ (or minimum standards) and degradation ‘ceilings’ (or upper limits). At base, these floors and ceilings emerge out of underlying consequentialist commitments that assume that our environmental activity can be justified by appeal primarily to ends. A series of intuition pumps guides our argument to instead shift the conservation discourse away from these consequentialist commitments to more widely justify activities on our public lands.

publication date

  • January 1, 2020

has restriction

  • closed

Date in CU Experts

  • January 31, 2021 12:03 PM

Full Author List

  • Lee A; Hamilton A; Hale B

author count

  • 3

Other Profiles

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0163-4275

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 135

end page

  • 148


  • 42


  • 2