Assessing the value of nature: A transactional approach

Environmental Ethics 24 (1):57-74 (2002)
Henry David Thoreau’s discussion of the highest value of wild apples and my own reflection upon my experience, interacting with the sea and enjoying its products during my Central American upbringing, motivate this discussion of how human beings may apprehend nature’s highest worth. I propose that in order to apprehend nature’s highest value it is necessary to understand the complete transaction between human beings and nature—an active transaction that requires from the human being a continuous movement along experience, reflection, and responsible action. I argue that the economic valuation of natural products—via the contemporary economic concepts of utility, use-value, existence-value, and willingness-to-pay—is insufficient to comprehend the full worth of nature because it reduces the human being-nature transaction to mere economic terms. Hence, a reading of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Nature provides insight into the services—commodity, beauty, language, and discipline—that the human being receives, as part of the transaction, from nature. In turn, a reading of Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac complements the Emersonian position by considering the human being’s position as a member of a natural community. Finally, I propose that in order to apprehend the worth of nature, it is further necessary to move from the reflective understanding of the human being-nature transaction into necessary action, that is, into the assumption of responsibility towards nature
Keywords Applied Philosophy  General Interest
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 0163-4275
DOI 10.5840/enviroethics200224141
 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: 24,479
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

4 ( #615,125 of 1,925,594 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #418,223 of 1,925,594 )

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.