Environmental Ethics Vol. 29/1 (2007), pages 43-61
Recent critics (Andrew Light, Bryan Norton, Anthony Weston, and Bruce Morito, among others) have argued that we should give up talk of intrinsic value in general and that of nature in particular. While earlier theorists might have overestimated the importance of intrinsic value, these recent critics underestimate its importance. Claims about a thing’s intrinsic value are claims about the distinctive way in which we have reason to care about that thing. If we understand intrinsic value in this manner, we can capture the core claims that environmentalists want to make about nature while avoiding the worries raised by contemporary critics. Since the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic value plays a critical role in our understanding of the different ways that we do and should care about things, moral psychology, ethical theory in general, and environmental ethics in particular shouldn’t give up on the concept of intrinsic value.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 28/3 (2006), pages 247-264
If claims about which character traits are environmental virtues are to be more than rhetoric, there must be some basis or standard for evaluation. This naturalistic, teleological, pluralistic, and inclusive account of what makes a character trait an environmental virtue can be such a standard. It is naturalistic because it is consistent with and motivated by scientific naturalism. It is teleological because character traits are evaluated according to how well they promote certain ends. It is pluralistic because those ends are both agent-relative and agent-independent. It is inclusive because it counts environmentally justified, environmentally responsive and environmentally productive virtues as environmental virtues. This theory of environmental virtue provides the basis for the development of a typology of environmental virtue that includes virtues of sustainability, virtues of communion with nature, virtues of respect for nature, virtues of environmental activism, and virtues of environmental stewardship.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 28/1 (2006), pages 21-35
While much of Arne Naess’s ecosophy underscores the importance of understanding one’s ecological Self, his analyses of gestaltism are significant in that they center less on questions of the self than on questions of nature and what is other-than-human. Rather than the realization of a more expansive Self, gestalt ontology calls for a “gestalt shift” in our thinking about nature, one that allows for its intrinsic value to emerge clearly. Taking such a gestalt shift as a central task enables Naess to avoid some common criticisms of his view.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 28/2 (2006), pages 115-128
Biocentric individualism, the position that all life has intrinsic value, is of no practical help in policy-making contexts. Examples commonly used in discussions of biocentric individualism are themselves alienating and threaten to make environmental philosophy appear irrelevant to policy decisions. Hence, both biocentric individualism and typical discussions of it are problematic for those wishing to make environmental philosophy useful in policy. A recent article by Jason Kawall, in which he attempts to defend biocentric individualism, demonstrates these points.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 27/1 (2005), pages 43-56
Some environmental ethicists believe that nature as whole has intrinsic value. One reason they do is because they are struck by the extent to which nature and natural processes give rise to so much that has intrinsic value. The underlying thought is that the value-producing work that nature performs, its instrumentality, imbues nature with a value that is more than merely instrumental. This inference, from instrumental value to a noninstrumental value (such as intrinsic value or systemic value), has been criticized. After all, it seems to rely on the bizarre idea that a thing’s instrumental value could be a basis for it’s intrinsic value. This idea, however, is not as easy to dismiss as many might think. Review of the obvious arguments that might be deployed to defeat it shows that they have to be rejected, suggesting that a thing’s instrumental value could be, and arguably is, a basis for it’s intrinsic value. Defending this apparently bizarre idea provides a way of justifying the claim that nature as a whole has intrinsic value.