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Environmental Ethics

Volume 25, Issue 4, Winter 2003

Bill Hook
Pages 359-373

Intrinsic Value
Under the Scrutiny of Information and Evolutionary Theory

We do not yet have a sound ontology for intrinsic value. Albert Borgmann’s work on information technology and Daniel Dennett’s thoughts on evolutionary theory can provide the basis for an account of intrinsic value in terms of what it is, how it comes into existence, where it is found, and whether it can be quantified or compared. Borgmann’s information and realization relations are cornerstones for understanding value. According to Borgmann, things are valuable when they are meaningful and things become meaningful as information and realizations. It is in these relations that intrinsic and extrinsic values find their common roots. Dennett’s musing on the relationship between DNA instructions, DNA readers, and phenotypes invites a commingling of information technology and evolutionary theory. His notion of design space provides a basis for the claim the biotic community has on intrinsic and extrinsic values.

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