Extinct and Alive: Towards A Broader Account of Loss

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Extinction is usually associated with the death of the last remaining individual of a species, taxon, or population of organisms. Here I ask the question of whether extinction might also be applied to cases where individuals of the relevant category remain alive. Global impacts in the Anthropocene suggest extinction may be broader than typically thought. Technologies available in the emerging ‘synthetic age’ alter taxa in ways that may appropriately be characterized as extinction. The core of the more traditional account of extinction remains valuable. Losing the last few individuals of a taxon matters. But emerging types of loss may demand a broader understanding of extinction. This broader understanding could capture more of what humans are doing to the biosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2221-2234
Number of pages14
JournalPhilosophia (United States)
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • Extinction
  • Human impact
  • Loss
  • Synthetic age


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