Taking Prejudice Seriously: Burkean Reflections on the Rural Past and Present

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Urban-based nature conservation elites often condemn rural communities as backwards when they appeal to the value of tradition. Nevertheless, drawing from an interview study of Swedish hunters, we show that appeals to tradition express a coherent, if problematic, philosophical vision. We ask, then, two questions: (1) Do the ideas of Swedish hunters reflect a coherent philosophical vision? (2) Could this vision have a positive function in facilitating improved public dialogue over conservation policy? We examine this overlooked phenomenon of philosophical beliefs as the basis for contesting conservation policy. We also elucidate the negative consequences of this oversight for nature conservation policy debates. Finally, we discuss its positive function in nature conservation policy-making. Overall, we argue that policymakers should strive for a better understanding and appreciation of the hunters’ philosophical vision and that the hunters themselves should strive to better articulate this vision rather than their resentments.