Environmental Ethics

Volume 18, Issue 2, Summer 1996

Anthony Weston
Pages 115-132

Self-Validating Reduction
Toward a Theory of Environmental Devaluation

Disvaluing nature—a cognitive act—usually leads quickly to devaluing it too: to real-world exploitation and destruction. Worse, in fact, nature in its devalued state can then be held up as an excuse and justification for the initial disvaluation. In this way, dismissal and destruction perpetuate themselves. I call this process “self-validating reduction.” It is crucial to recognize the cycle of self-validating reduction, both in general and specifically as it applies to nature, if we are to have any chance of reversing it.