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Biological Conservation

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Conservation biology -- Philosophy, Biology -- Language, Euphemism, Biology -- Terminology, Biology -- Social aspects


What does George Orwell have to do with Conservation Biology? As one of the foremost critics of how language is used, he has quite a lot to say. He was not just a critic of the imprecise or the dreary, but of the power of language to mislead; he understood the power of language to evoke the passion of a mission-value-morality driven discipline such as conservation biology, or drown it in what he called orthodoxy—a condition that “seems to demand a lifeless, imitative style” (Orwell, 1968: IV: 135). Too often, he noted, speech about values was “the defense of the indefensible” (Orwell, 1968: IV: 136). We argue in this essay that euphemism is a means to mask the indefensible and conservation biologists should not be a party to that.


© 2017. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Transport Policy. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Biological Conservation, 211, Part A, (July 2017).

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