Environmental Ethics

Volume 42, Issue 2, Summer 2020

Levi Tenen
Pages 119-133

No Intrinsic Value? No Problem
Why Nature Can Still Be Valuable for Its Own Sake

Heirlooms and memorabilia are sometimes thought to be valuable for their own sakes even if they lack intrinsic value. They can have extrinsic final value, meaning that they can be valuable for their own sakes on account of their relation to other things. Yet if heirlooms and memorabilia can have this sort of value, then perhaps so can natural entities. If correct, this idea secures the claim that nature is valuable for its own sake without requiring that it have a normative property just in itself. Additionally, it does not commit one to the contentious view that natural entities have a more foundational value than that of persons or sentient beings. Yet it remains to be shown how, precisely, natural entities can have this sort of value. As argued here, one such way is if the given natural entity is related to something else that people are justified in valuing in a partly passive manner. This account then sheds light on the values present in a world increasingly affected by humans.