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Environmental Ethics

Volume 13, Issue 2, Summer 1991

Val Plumwood
Pages 139-149
DOI: 10.5840/enviroethics199113227

Ethics and Instrumentalism
A Response to Janna Thompson

I argue that Janna Thompson’s critique of environmental ethics misrepresents the work of certain proponents of non-instrumental value theory and overlooks the ways in which intrinsie values have been related to valuers and their preferences. Some of the difficulties raised for environmental ethics (e.g., individuation) are real but would only be fatal if environmental ethics could not be supplemented by a wider environmental philosophy and practice. The proper context and motivation for the development of non-instrumental theories is not that of an objectivist value theory but rejection of the human domination and chauvinism involved in even the broadest instrumental accounts of nature as spiritual resource.