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People see certain historical treasures as the Egyptian pyramids & sphinx, the Mayan monuments and the Great Wall of China as being "World Heritage Sites". These are typically protected sites controlled by the governments of various countries ostensibly for the benefit of all mankind. "World Heritage" sites are not just limited to monuments of world cultures but also can designate natural wonders like the Barrier Reef etc. For a list of these see http://whc.unesco.org/en/list When they are destroyed, there is a hue and cry such as when the Buddhas of Bamiyan were dynamited by the Taliban.

What is Objectivism's position on these sites ? Should they be sold off? I am sure that some would be purchased rapidly by folks who would preserve them and make money off visitors. Others could just as easily go to folks that could want to change them irrevocably (eg: build an undersea amusement park in the barrier reef by clearing a significant part of it). Still other owners may buy the sites and just destroy them (A billionaire could find the historical city of Quito quite an eyesore and want to clear massive swathes of it and plant trees instead).

The question is: what is right and proper? Some of these sites are irreplaceable. There is no "oops" moment after you clear cut redwood forest. It is gone forever. The owner could become fabulously wealthy by the clear cutting but the point is, no human would be able to enjoy the forest any more. I know that several objectivists have advocated getting in groups and buying up land to preserve these sorts of places but generally the parties that have economic uses they can put the sites to generally always "win" the tug of war since they will always have more immediate money to deploy. Is it a valid concept to think of certain sites as belonging to mankind or do we need to move towards the "Rockefeller Pyramids", the "Bill Gates reef", the "Budweiser redwood grove" and the "Lakshmi Mittal Taj Mahal"?

asked Nov 14 '12 at 15:12

Danneskjold_repo's gravatar image


edited Nov 14 '12 at 15:16

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

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Asked: Nov 14 '12 at 15:12

Seen: 667 times

Last updated: Nov 14 '12 at 15:16