“Natural” is commonly used for what would exist without humans and would exist in the way it does with-out humans. The counter-concept, the “artificial”, is commonly used for what exists in the way it does only through humans or has only become what it is by human intervention. Both concepts refer to the poles of a spectrum which are rarely realized as such. At the same time, in the philosophical tradition as well as in everyday morality, naturalness functions as a normative principle that distinguishes what has grown or evolved from what has been made by human hands. The diversity of its meanings implies a corresponding diversity of what in each case is considered “natural” in preference to the non-natural. While it is doubtful whether naturalness in the sense of being untouched by human beings can be regarded as having intrinsic value (except in special areas such as preservation, for example in the case of national parks), the reference to naturalness assumes a number of functions (such as alleviating responsibility and avoiding risky innovations with unforeseeable outcomes) which may be justifiable in certain cases.
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