Beyond intrinsic value: Pragmatism in environmental ethics

Environmental Ethics 7 (4):321-339 (1985)
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In this essay I propose an environmental ethic in the pragmatic vein. I begin by suggesting that the contemporary debate in environmental ethics is forced into a familiar but highly restrictive set of distinctions and problems by the traditional notion of intrinsic value, particularly by its demands that intrinsic values be self-sufficient, abstract, and justified in special ways. I criticize this notion and develop an alternativewhich stresses the interdependent structure of values, a structure which at once roots them deeply in our selves and at the same time opens them to critical challenge and change. Finally, I apply this alternative view back to environmental ethics. It becomes easy to justify respect for other life forms and concern for the natural environment, and indeed many of the standard arguments only become stronger, once the demand to establish intrinsic values is removed



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Anthony Weston
Elon University

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