Conflict persists in southwestern deserts of the United States over management of human-constructed devices to provide wildlife with water. We appraised decision processes in this case relative to the goal of human dignity and by the standards of civility and common interest outcomes. Our analysis suggested that conflict was scientized, rooted in worldviews, and aggravated by use of inflammatory symbols such as "wilderness" and "bighorn sheep." Contested problem definitions, framed as matters of science, advanced factional interests largely by allocating the burden of proof and failing to disclose private concerns about well-being, affection, respect, skill and power. Decision processes were shaped by precepts of scientific management, and thus largely failed to foster civility, common ground, and a focus on common interests, and instead tended to exacerbate deprivations of dignity and respect. If the status quo continues, we foresee further erosion of human dignity because there are likely to be increases in system stressors, such as climate change and human population growth. The prognosis would be more hopeful if alternatives were adopted that entailed authoritative, equitable, and collaborative public decision-making processes that took into consideration national-level common interests such as the U.S. Endangered Species Act. ?? Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2008.