Nature Is Intrinsically Valuable...

Not just valuable "to us" because of whatever utility it might yield:

"Tolkien’s sense of the supernatural’s indwelling within the natural further fostered a keen ecological sensibility and an ensuing ethic of stewardship... ''As all of reality bears the mark of its divine maker, it has intrinsic value and an independent identity rather than being merely the raw material for sating human desires. Conservation of nature is therefore an act of pietas and vigilance on its behalf is a vocation." -- "The Holiness of Hobbitry"

9 comments:

  1. There's nothing unnatural about sunder dioxide or radiation. If we view these things as examples of environmental degradation, it's because they are bad for us or for things that we value.

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    1. That seems a bit pedantic. "Nature" can have several meanings. By one meaning, well, everything has a nature, and therefore everything is natural. But people also use "nature" to mean the sorts of things associated with "the great outdoors", i.e. a familiar type of wilderness. Dangerous levels of radiation is not what one expects to find in the great outdoors, so therefore it is not part of nature in this sense.

      I agree that there is something human-centric about this sort of "nature". The moon is a wilderness and I suppose most people would agree that it is natural, but it's not the sort of nature that people find pleasant and interesting.

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    2. Greg,

      That's my point. The "great outdoors" is a human-centric concept. It includes trees and streams because we like to look at them, hike through them, etc. If we had evolved to prefer smog and find grass toxic, then our notion of the great outdoors would look very different. No doubt in such a world there would be a Gene Prime arguing that smog was intrinsically valuable too.

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  2. I'm curious about concept of value that's the framework for this assertion. When I was a Rothbardian, I defined value as subjective utility of human exploitation. Now, I think in essentially the same terms, but more humbly: I have a concept of "I value", "you value", "he or she values", but I don't have a concept of "value" beyond "people are likely to value it." I suppose it's true to a first approximation that the wild natural world is inherently likely to be valued by people.

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    1. I think that Gene's point is that there is a sharp distinction between that kind of "value", the kind associated with costs and money, and "real" value. The value that makes my computer worth $600 is not the same kind of value that makes a human life, liberty, or nature precious (or any numerous other things).

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    2. What is value without a valuer? There is no value, there is only value to. Value to people, to cats, to god (if such a thing actually exists). Saying nature has value is like saying it has color or flavor.

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    3. Well, the concept is that it doesn't matter so much if we *do* value nature: we *should* value it. Reality is radiant with the logos. That is what value is without a valuer!

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    4. Well, I agree that reality is radiant with the logos. Isn't that true of sunder dioxide and radiation and smog and violence the same as it's true of plants and birds and rocks and things, sand and hills and rings (i.e. what I suppose people with a "keen ecological sensibility and an ensuing ethic of stewardship" have in mind)?

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