Making and finding values in nature: From a Humean point of view

Inquiry 49 (2):123 – 147 (2006)
The paper advances a Humean metaethical analysis of "intrinsic value" - a notion fundamental in moral philosophy in general and particularly so in environmental ethics. The analysis reduces an object's moral properties (e.g., its value) to the empirical relations between the object's natural properties and people's psychological dispositions to respond to them. Moral properties turn out to be both objective and subjective, but in ways compatible with, and complementary to, each other. Next, the paper investigates whether the Humean analysis can support non-anthropocentric environmental ethical theories, which attribute intrinsic value to nonhuman natural entities. It argues that one of the most useful resources from Hume for non-anthropocentrism is his account of justice as an artificial virtue, which is a plausible model for the internalization of various environmentally friendly conventions and the creation of environmental values. Finally, the paper concludes that any Humean account of intrinsic value is empiricist all the way down. Moral questions about what things are intrinsically valuable, and to what extent they are so, are ultimately empirical questions about complex psychological capacities and dispositions of human beings, which cannot be single-handedly answered by philosophers a priori; and that ethics is more appropriately seen as an interdisciplinary investigation, requiring collaboration among the various psychological and social sciences, human biological and neurological sciences, and history and philosophy.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,360
External links
  •   Try with proxy.
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA
    A. J. Ayer (1980). Hume. Oxford University Press.

    View all 48 references

    Citations of this work BETA
    Similar books and articles

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index


    Total downloads

    36 ( #40,452 of 1,089,153 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    7 ( #15,198 of 1,089,153 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature

    Start a new thread
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.