An emotocentric theory of interests

Environmental Ethics 20 (2):163-182 (1998)
Abstract
It is plausible to hold that ethical obligations are concerned with bringing about the existence of things that have value, where something is of value if and only if it is in the interest of some entity. Here the notion of an interest may be defined as whatever contributes to the well-being of a morally significant entity. I argue that interests are limited to individuals with the capacity for affective response. After briefly distinguishing between various different types of value, I defend this emotocentric theory of interests against objections raised by Paul Taylor and Gary Varner, both of whom grant interests to a larger class of entities. I argue that there are serious problems with attempts to associate interests with mere goaldirectedness or with the mere possession of biological functions
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