Historical, Ethical, and (Extra)legal Perspectives on Culpability in Accidental Species Introductions

Gad Perry, Howard Curzer, Michael Farmer, Meredith L. Gore, Daniel Simberloff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Some nonnative species benefit humans, but many become invasive, with high economic, cultural, and ecological costs. Although many introductions are considered accidental, inadvertent, or unintentional, this terminology often cannot be justified. Prevention policies have been proposed or implemented, and a diversity of proven control methods is available, but invasion problems grow, largely because feasible policy and management approaches are not implemented. The lack of action reflects willful myopia, a decision not to act because of negligence by policymakers, managers, and individuals. We explore the multidimensional ethical implications of this view and propose a continuum of ethical hazard. We relate the ethical dimensions to legal aspects of culpability and suggest a possible cutoff for legal liability. Finally, we identify four components of a desired policy response: It must ensure legal authority for action, base policy response on market forces, assure that more than simplistic economic considerations underpin decisions, and better engage the public.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-70
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Invasive species
  • denialism
  • economic considerations
  • policy
  • prevention


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