Intrinsic Value: Towards A Pragmatic Theory

نوع مقاله : مقاله پژوهشی


Intrinsic value is a concept central to the environmentalist movement. Whether one believes that natural objects have intrinsic value is supposed to determine whether one takes a ecocentric or homocentric approach to environmentalism, whether we practice deep or (merely) shallow ecology.  Yet this concept is also a center of controversy and confusion.  Just what does it mean for something to have intrinsic value?  Is it the same thing as inherent value? Is it "objective" value?  What of extrinsic, or, instrumental value? Is it somehow less objective?  Questions such as these will be the subject of my paper.  After a brief historical analysis of the relevant concepts, I shall consider the problem in the context of a wetland in the intercoastal waterway of Northeast Florida and propose a theory of intrinsic value based on the philosophy of John Dewey and George Herbert Mead.[i]  Although we're unlikely to reach full agreement on some of these questions, I believe that we can come to agree enough on the intrinsic value of our environment to build a consensus in public policy.

[i].  For the most exhaustive statement of the philosophy of nature relied on here see G.H. Mead, Philosophy of the Act, Charles Morris ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1938).  For John Dewey's version, see Dewey , 1929, Experience and Nature, 2nd ed. (La Salle: Open Court).


عنوان مقاله [English]

Intrinsic Value: Towards A Pragmatic Theory

چکیده [English]

Intrinsic value is a concept central to the environmentalist movement. Whether one believes that natural objects have intrinsic value is supposed to determine whether one takes a ecocentric or homocentric approach to environmentalism, whether we practice deep or (merely) shallow ecology.  Yet this concept is also a center of controversy and confusion.  Just what does it mean for something to have intrinsic value?  Is it the same thing as inherent value? Is it "objective" value?  What of extrinsic, or, instrumental value? Is it somehow less objective?  Questions such as these will be the subject of my paper.  After a brief historical analysis of the relevant concepts, I shall consider the problem in the context of a wetland in the intercoastal waterway of Northeast Florida and propose a theory of intrinsic value based on the philosophy of John Dewey and George Herbert Mead.[i]  Although we're unlikely to reach full agreement on some of these questions, I believe that we can come to agree enough on the intrinsic value of our environment to build a consensus in public policy.

[i].  For the most exhaustive statement of the philosophy of nature relied on here see G.H. Mead, Philosophy of the Act, Charles Morris ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1938).  For John Dewey's version, see Dewey , 1929, Experience and Nature, 2nd ed. (La Salle: Open Court).

کلیدواژه‌ها [English]

  • Intrinsic
  • extrinsic
  • Instrumental
  • Objective
  • Value
  • Pragmatism
  • nature

I.  Introduction

Although environmentalism might perhaps be its highest expression, value theory did not begin with this movement.  In the West, it started with Socrates and his biographer, Plato.  What is the Good, they asked, and how does it differ from particular goods?  From the cross-examination of holy men on the nature of piety, to the long disquisitions on the nature of justice, Plato challenged his contemporaries and continues to challenge us to discover the underlying sources of value. 

Aristotle, having learned well from his master the method of collection and division, made a distinction between types of good, and, supplying a vocabulary to accompany the distinction, gave us the first systematic theory of value.  He distinguished between extrinsic goods and intrinsic goods, between mere


FALSAFEH   Vol. 37, No. 3,  Autumn  2009, pp. 107-123

means on the one hand and pure ends on the other.[1] Being aware, however, that ends are most often means to further ends, Aristotle was obliged to make the distinction between means and ends more clear.  Some things, he explained, are pursued purely as means to some remote end, others (most, in fact) are pursued partly for some external end and partly for themselves, and then finally, there are those pursued purely for their own sake.  The first of these types of goods, argued Aristotle, are purely extrinsic, that is, pure means; the second class of goods are partly extrinsic, partly intrinsic; the third type is purely intrinsic, a pure end, or, end-in-itself.

How can we know we have a good that is an end-in-itself?  Aristotle offered two criteria: finality and self-sufficiency.  If an end is pursued for no other purpose than its realization, i.e., it is final, and nothing can be added to it to make it better, i.e., it is self-sufficient, then that end is an end-in-itself—it has intrinsic value.  For Aristotle, there is only one good that met these criteria: the good life (eudaemonia), or, human happiness.  Although value in general is identified with functionality (i.e., functional excellence—arête)and is independent of human cognition,[2]all value ultimately tends towards, has its function in, human happiness and well-being.  Further, since humans are essentially rational animals, their functional excellence must involve Reason; and since non-human animals have no Reason, their value can only be as means to our rational ends.

This conception of intrinsic and extrinsic value dominated Western value theory and its accompanying human sciences for two millennia.  Pure means—extrinsic goods—were distinguished from pure ends—intrinsic goods, finality and self-sufficiency were the distinguishing features of intrinsic value, and human rationality and well-being were loci of this value.  But this conception had serious limitations and was bound for challenge and reconstruction. Writing of in the eighteenth century, Immanuel Kant offered such a challenge and forever altered our thinking on values.  Referring specifically to the ancient Greeks, he argued that happiness could never be an end-in-itself, whether we are speaking of personal or collective happiness.  Imagine a villain, he said, or a villainous society (we might add), happy as can be.  Can we really say that this is good
in more than a relative sense?  No. From the point of view of an impartial rational observer, such a circumstance must be construed as bad.
[3]With this idea of an impartial rational observer, Kant provided another criterion of intrinsic value, viz., that of objectivity.  There's only one thing that meets this criterion argued Kant, and that is the good will, which is to say, the rational will. Kant shows the connection between reason and the good by arguing that the commission of any immoral act involves inconsistency and contradiction. A good will cannot be irrational and a rational will must be good.  Hence rationality, construed as universality and consistency, became the criterion of intrinsic, that is to say, objective, value.  Kant's analysis made value relative always to rationality and in so doing separated rationality from happiness.[4]  Nothing, therefore, can have intrinsic value for Kant, save a good, or, rational, will.

Having added the objectivity requirement, Kant narrowed further the possibilities for truly intrinsic value, and he made more definite the idea that value had to have its ultimate source in Reason.  This idea was seriously challenged by the utilitarians, Jeremy Bentham, James and J. S. Mill (and David Hume before them).  The attack was twofold:  First they argued that there was something more central to value than human rationality.  Kant's model, for instance, gives us no direct obligations to non-humans.  Even in our interpersonal relationships, we must respect the rational will of our fellow humans, not their feelings per se.[5]  Bentham balked at this. The criterion of morality should not be reason, he said, but sentience.  Bentham claimed that we shouldn't ask "Can it reason?" but "Can it suffer?"  For him, value is identified with pleasure and pain, and it matters not whether it concerns humans or non-humans.  All beings should have a say, so to speak, though the various voices may not always be weighted equally.  Value had to be grounded in sentience, and the seat of intrinsic value must therefore be the immediate feeling of pleasure.

Second, having reduced value to the feelings of pleasure and pain, the utilitarians argued that a purely rational analysis, such as the one offered by Kant, could never serve us in fixing value, extrinsic or otherwise.  J.S. Mill argued, for instance, that contrary to Kant’s arguments, there is no contradiction in the commission of the most outrageously immoral actions.[6]  Whether Reason is a “slave to the passions,” as Hume contended, or an equal partner, value does not have its ultimate source in rationality.

By the end of the nineteenth century, there was a crisis in value theory, and in general the social sciences.  Kant showed us that intrinsic value requires more than finality and self-sufficiency—that there must also be objectivity or the value cannot have ultimate value.  The utilitarians then argued that objectivity (as rationality) is not possible.  This crisis is still with us.  Although there has been much important work in the life sciences since then, comparably little has been done in value theory that goes beyond the Kantians and Utilitarians. We in the environmental movement are in the same position: we are still trying to create a viable theory of intrinsic value.[7]


II. Nature: Where's the Value?

If we place contemporary environmental issues in historical perspective, we can see that our disagreements are not merely a function of greed and stupidity versus reason and concern.  Depending on the tradition of value theory to which you belong, there will be different "reasoned" and concerned answers to the questions of why we should protect, and more importantly, how far we should go in protecting the environment.  Homocentrists, following Kant, are going to make all environmental values relative to man.  Extentionists (like Peter Singer, for instance), following Bentham et al., make environmental values relative to sentient creatures.  And when someone from outside either tradition, viz., an ecocentrist like Holmes Rolston, tries to ground value in nature—independent of man and all sentient beings—he will receive criticism from both sides of the traditional debate.

Consider a piece of marshland along the intercostal waterway of northeast Florida in the United States.  What value can we find there?  What obligations do we have regarding this land?  A homocentrist will argue that any value there is relative to the human good.  Though there are different degrees of enlightenment one can have in expressing the valuation, instrumentality for humans is the ultimate criterion of value. The beauty of the adjacent waterway and the land itself, for instance, is beautiful for us.  The space, be it used for recreation or residence, is of value to us.  The non-human life there, if a good, is so because it provides for humans, either in the short or the long term.  These are means to our ends.

The reasoning of the extentionist is similar, but value for her is relative to other sentient beings besides humans.  We can also speak of instrumentality for non-human life.  Now we must calculate the good for all sentient life on the salt marsh in our valuations.  (Note that some extensionists, viz., the biocentrists, go one step further to include plant life in their calculation of the good.)  What's common in all these perspectives is that the value of the marshland is relative to 'x', the disagreement being over what 'x' is.

The ecocentrists make a major conceptual break with the above schools.  When Aldo Leopold offered his version of the categorical imperative: "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community," he wasn't relativizing values to man, animals, or even plants.  For him, there is value in the land,[8] independent of any particular need, human or otherwise.  The salt marsh in question is an ecosystem.  The alligators, fiddler crabs, shrimp, fish fry, sawgrass, clams, mud, oysters, blue herons, marsh hens, cedar trees, etc. are part of a dynamic process.  Indeed, to get a full picture, we must consider not just the objects but the processes within and between them: nutrition, excretion, reproduction, symbioses, competitions, and even the tides and the weather. This system, moreover, barely described here, is a part of an even larger system. The system itself, according to this view has non-instrumental, that is, intrinsic value.  It is not a mere means, it is an end-in-itself.  No one member of the system can claim that the values found there are relative to it or its species.  One might say the value is there, period.  Accordingly, it deserves our protection and respect.

All this sounds good, especially if we are already inspired by the beauty and integrity of Nature and disgusted with human abuses of her.  The problem is that those who don't share our feeling of respect and awe, those who would rather look at billboards than trees when traveling down the highway,[9] will neither have the inclination to, nor a rationale for, making sacrifices on nature's behalf.  Even concerned environmentalists from other schools will balk. What does it mean, they will ask, for something to "have value, period"?   What kind of value can be intrinsic besides the pleasure we feel when interacting with some given object?

Many of these questions are purely intellectual ones.  Often we agree on the conclusions but disagree on the premises.  This is not to say that they are unimportant.  But in the meantime, while we bicker over the details, ignorance and greed are left at the helm of our environmental policy-making.  Our salt marsh, for instance, more than likely has already got houses on it, as the city councilors will ignore the arguments over why we shouldn't build and listen to the concrete dollars and cents proposal of the developers.  We need to settle at least some of these disputes before we show up at the town meetings to have significant impact on our policy-makers.  What we need, and what I hope to outline in the remaining section, is a reconstructed theory of intrinsic value.  My hope is that such a theory will provide for enough common ground between the various perspectives to make possible concrete arguments against environmental degradation.


III. A Pragmatic Theory of Value

All sides of the debate have something significant to say.  Critics of the homocentric view are right, I think, to question whether value only belongs to something when it serves humans.  On the other hand, critics of the ecocentric position are right to require an identification of someone or thing benefiting from a proposed value.  My task now is to sort these out.

The solution to these quandaries, I believe, can be found in the value theory of John Dewey.  Writing in the early 20th century, and drawing on the work of G.H. Mead, he was well acquainted with the advancements of the life sciences during the 19th century. At the same time, he shared J. S. Mill's disgust at how little progress had been made in the distinctively human sciences.[10] Focusing on life science on the one hand and philosophy on the other, they fashioned a philosophy of nature based on three basic principles:

1)                                                      reality/nature is dynamic evolutionary process;

2)                                                      means and ends are parts/events of a continuum;

3)                                                      value is an emergent property in a triadic functional relation.

I’ll treat these one at a time.  First, they took evolutionary theory as a starting point.  Reality is process,[11] not some fixed eternal cosmos.  The environment, so called, is not some thing out there that we bounce off of; it is a dynamic system, which is itself an organism of sorts.  The human organism—like all other organisms—is not a passive recipient of causality from without. Rather, we continually select and re-select our environment, as it in turn selects and re-selects its constituent parts.  That is, the relationship between any organism and its environment is one of interaction, of doing and undergoing.  Even within a particular organism, the various components within are also in a state of dynamic interaction.[12]  In the same way, one ecosystem can be a component of a larger biotic "community."  The world, pragmatically construed, is not a set of static things, but organizations of fluid motions and interactions.

This much every biologist knows, but there are consequences for a theory of value that we tend to ignore.  Here then is a second point in the Deweyan/Meadean philosophy of nature:  the components of all dynamic systems, including biotic communities, are related in such a way that every part is a means to some end(s), and every end is also a means to further ends.  No part of the system can be independent of, nor should it be given an arbitrarily privileged status over the rest.  Nothing, that is, is an end-in-itself.[13] No end by itself is the giver of value.  Accordingly, nothing in such a system is merely a means.  Instrumentality is indeed an objective property of natural objects, but such objects are never merely instrumental.  In a dynamic system, then, no value can be the value under all circumstances.  From art to ethics to physics to Nature, harmony is found only so long as no one side of the equation draws too much.[14]

Consider again our salt marsh. It would be absurd, knowing what we do, to claim that the salt marsh exists for any one of the members of that community.[15]  It exists not for the crabs, nor for the grass, and not for humans.  On this view, it is simply ludicrous to make the value of a salt marsh relative to the desires and interests of an unscrupulous real estate developer,[16] for instance, especially inasmuch as his ends are superimposed on the system and not part of the internal dynamic process.  And even if he is part of the system, such a valuation would be arbitrary, just as much as it would be for society to make the institution of art an agent of state propaganda.  Be it a human or a biotic community, the respective members may be instrumental to its continuation and growth, but they are never merely instrumental to the whole (or any of the other parts).  Properly construed, the value of each of the parts in a dynamic system is in the relation to the other parts as well as to the whole. By the same token, the value of the whole must be seen as inseparable from the value of its constituent parts.  There is no value over against which all other values should be measured.  In short, nothing "has value, period" (not even money![17]). 

Where then is intrinsic value?  What happens when we remove ends-in-themselves from the cosmic picture, as Dewey did?  Some might argue that Deweyan value theory would destroy intrinsic value.[18]  But this view of Dewey misses a deeper point.  If the concern is that such a view relativizes value, we must remember that the tradition views do so as well, and I would say, more profoundly.   The fact is, it is not until we give up on the idea that values can exist outside of all contexts that we can truly appreciate the values in and of things, that we can have intrinsic value.  It is only when we naturalize value by construing it contextually (i.e., functionally[19]) that we can consider the object or system of objects in its own right.  Once we contextualize value, we shall no longer have to relativize it to some remote end, separate from the context in which it is found.  We shall then have value in the things, in the process of interaction.

The third point, then, is that value is contextual; it exists as a functional relationship.  Specifically, it exists as a triadic relation.  That is, to say that 'x' has value is to say that it serves something 'y' in capacity 'z.' A knife, for example, can be said to have value because I can use it to cut things.  So the knife has value to me in that it can cut.  Similarly, we can say that old growth pine trees have value to red cockaded woodpeckers by way of habitat.  Notice that though the understanding of such a relation may necessitate the existence of a rational cognizer, the relationship itself is independent of human concern and cognition.[20]  In this sense all values are objective (though clearly such is not the case with valuations).  Similarly, all value is inherent, that is, inherent to the triad.  Fish, for example, had value for alligators (e.g., as a means of nutrition) long before humans were on the scene of the marshlands and rivers.  The salt marsh itself can also be said to have value in the context of the larger environment and the function(s) for which it serves.  There is no need to appeal to human rationality or sentience to establish these relations.  Such items are functionally related, and whether the relation is rational, sensational, or osmotic, the value is there and can be established scientifically.

Out of these three points come two meaningful senses of intrinsic value useful in our environmental decision-making.  First, there is aesthetic value.  Nature, as a system of dynamic systems, provides an unending source of intrinsic value.  The completeness, self-containedness of natural systems is as awe-inspiring as it can be awful.  Even though natural systems have been the source of much anguish and fear, the fact that such systems exist for themselves and are not easily moldable to our ends[21]actually adds to their grace and beauty.  Dewey, showing how deep his naturalism runs, goes as far as to claim in his aesthetic theory that art attempts to recreate the rhythms found in nature and is successful to the extent that it does.[22] If he is right, the farther we remove ourselves from the multiplicity and multi-functionality of nature, the greater the poverty of our art, and hence, of our lives. But alas, it is difficult to convince people who enjoy reading billboards that nature is an undying source of beauty.  For such people, nature is boring and beauty is a matter of likes and dislikes.  To convince them otherwise[23] is a task no easier than convincing them that we should respect our ecosystems.  For them we need a related but separate argument.

A second sense of intrinsic value can be identified under this view.  When we consider value as a triadic relation, specifically, when we place it in the context of a dynamic system, we realize that it's often very difficult to isolate some one specific function that some object, entity, or process has.  Most things have multiple functions. It is only in the world of human artifice that we find things having only one designated function, and even then people are always trying to break convention.[24]  Because natural objects were not created by us for some specific purpose, we can never be sure of all the functions that they do or can serve.  Accordingly, when we decide to fill in the swamp or levy the river's banks we are taking a risk, multiple risks, in fact.  Our news is full of "natural disasters" that turn out to have been exacerbated by human tinkering.  Such items of news should be put to good use.  They should be used to illustrate that the values found in natural ecosystems are intrinsic to the systems, that they cannot be removed and consumed (or neglected and destroyed) without starting an avalanche of dominoes.  And although it may be pointed out that some subsystems can be removed from a larger one without significant repercussions, we must be careful to reply that it's very difficult to know which ones these are.[25]

If we want to retain a sense of "unremovable" in our conception of intrinsic value, here is where we should focus.  The values we normally deem environmental values are most likely to be unremovable--they are most often intrinsic to the system.  This is the key, I think, to convincing even the non-environmentalist that natural objects need protection.[26] Whether or not the completeness, complexity, and self-containedness of nature has for them aesthetic appeal, it should certainly arouse in them a suspicion that "it's not nice to fool with Mother Nature."

One might object here that the value of which I have been speaking is not intrinsic value, but simply multi-functional value, which is, in the end, just another species of instrumental value.  Two replies are worth making here.  First, as Dewey pointed out (and we noted above), the hard and fast distinction between intrinsic and instrumental value is a problematic one.  True, all value is functional value, hence, all value is instrumental in the sense that it helps something perform some function or task; yet no value has only one singular function, hence, no value is a mere instrument for one fixed function without capacity for any other functionality.  Second, those things we typically construe as intrinsically valuable, as valuable independent of any particular function or context, are precisely those which perform so many different functions and in so many different contexts that we tend to forget that those values are also context-bound. 

These replies can be best understood from the standpoint of Dewey's concept of the continuum of ends-means.[27]  Unlike Aristotle, whose metaphysics led him to a conception of pure ends and pure means, Dewey saw the concepts 'means' and 'end' as inherently interconnected.  Concepts such as 'purely intrinsic value' and 'purely instrumental value' can only be limiting concepts describing our cognitions of particular values.  They are not placeholders for ontological entities occupying different spaces in nature. When something appears to us as fulfilling only one function (a boring job, for instance), we conceive of it as purely instrumental; when it appears, on the other hand, as so valuable that removing one or even many of its functional properties does not detract from the perception of value (a happy life, for instance), we conceive of it as purely intrinsic.  But in either case, there are, on closer inspection, elements of remote instrumentality and inherent value in the activities.  Even the most boring job has its moments of enjoyment and even the most barren exercise of energy creates a capacity for future application.  By the same token, even something as valuable as happiness, personal or societal, can be seen as objectionable under the right circumstances (this was the force of Kant's criticism of  teleological ethics).

The departure from Greek metaphysics notwithstanding, this view of value as functionality is in many ways nothing more than a return to the ancient Greeks.[28] Aristotle, remember, spoke of the excellence (arete) of a thing in terms of its functionality.  An excellent human being, for Aristotle, was one who performed well his function—rationality; an excellent knife was one that performs its function for us—cutting—well; an excellent ox was one that does what it's supposed to do—pull carts for humans.  However skewed Aristotle's views might have been regarding the function of these various entities, the idea of connecting value to functionality was sound.  One of the beauties of Aristotelian Ethics, after all, is its attempt to find objective standards in the face of relative appearances and circumstances.

The triadic account of value offered here also gives greater significance to Plato's naturalism.  Recall that cryptic passage in Plato's Euthyphro where Socrates is trying to explain to Euthyphro that piety (or holiness) cannot be defined as the god-beloved.  In the early parts of the discussion, Socrates explains that to say that something is god-beloved is to say that the gods love it, just as to say that something is carried is to say that someone is carrying it.  At first his dwelling on this point may seem as unnecessary as it is obscure.  On the present account, however, the point of this passage is quite important: it emphasizes that the value we call "piety" cannot simply be a monadic predicate.  Something cannot possess the property of god-belovedness without reference to a divine loving-agent.  That is, there must be at the very least a dyadic relation between valuer and the thing valued.  So, for instance, if Euthyphro's conduct is indeed to be called god-beloved and hence pious, this is to say that the gods approve of his conduct.  The value, then is (at least) dyadic. 

This is the point at which many environmentalists stop.  Value does not exist without a valuer, it is said, hence value is relative to a cognizing subject.  The Homocentrists, for instance, and even extensionists adopt this point of view.  Yet Plato's analysis did not and ours should not) stop at the dyadic account.  In the dialogue, Plato has Socrates make it quite apparent that nothing is pious or holy simply because the gods love it.  What he's saying here is that value is never a dyadic relation, even when it comes to the gods.  The fact of their approval is a function of the act's goodness, which is something that stands outside the process of valuation as a third.[29] It is this third that Plato sees as the essence of piety, and for this reason, he rejects Euthyphro's proposed definition.

Although we need not accept Plato's contention that value ultimately points to a transcendent object as the third, we can still appreciate his understanding that to say that something has value is neither to ascribe to it a monadic predicate (i.e., ascribe value outside of all context) nor to view it as involved in a merely dyadic relation between valuer and valued.  Plato instructed us on the need for a third; pragmatism's contribution is to put the third back into nature.

One might argue here, by way of objection, that objective standards of value are not possible without some terminating point to which all values are ultimately relative and that in the absence of such a terminating point, all valuations are nothing more than reports of subjective states.  Perhaps this is what Plato himself might have told us.  But the line of argument in this objection betrays a conflation, if not confusion, of 'objective' and 'absolute.'  Although the functional accounts of value found in Plato and Aristotle both point to absolutes, this view has by no means been incontovertibly established.  One might even argue that the modern crisis in value theory is a function of our rejection of the Greeks' absolutism.  In addressing absolutism and the challenge to find objectivity in a world without fixity, Dewey argues that there is no need for a terminating point of value to be able to make objective claims.  Science, he reminds us, has gotten along just fine without absolutes in factual inquiries and there is no reason in principle why similar can't be the case with values.  In the establishment of any proposition, valuational or otherwise, our principles need not be fixed; all we need are points of agreement that we have no reason to question for the time being. 

Nothing in the foregoing analysis is incompatible with any of the three environmental views outlined at the outset.  The pragmatic theory answers the question of how something can have value independent of human and other sentient beings while at the same time showing that value is not something that just is, period.  We can say, I believe, both concretely and objectively that natural systems have value. Clearly, they are replete with a multiplicity of values.  Not only that, we can legitimately say that what we typically call environmental values are intrinsic values.  They are the source of (at least some) aesthetic experience—this much anyone would have to agree to; and they are multiply instrumental—valuable in so many contexts that using them up for some narrow purpose(s) is lunacy.  The enlightened humanist (homocentrist) no doubt sees this, and so does the extentionist and ecocentrist; the problem is that they haven't had a good means of seeing it together.  Perhaps a common language of value can help us here to recognize why and explain how natural values sustain us—spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  In the end we want to be able to argue that whichever category of sustenance we hold most dear, that whether we are human-centered or earth-centered, we surely cannot afford to have these values "bought up" and "sold out" in the market.  It is my hope that the conception of value offered here can and will serve as the needed common ground for such arguments.



[1]. Although the distinction is present in Plato's Republic, Aristotle supplied us with the terms that allow us to draw readily the distinction.  See his Nicomachean Ethics, esp. Bk I.

[2]. We'll be returning to this point later on.

[3]. This argument can be found in Kant, 1980, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, Lewis White Beck, trans. (Indianapolis: Bobbs‑Merrill) Section I.

[4].  Kant has a separate argument here.  Essentially, he explains how happiness could not be the fulfillment of Reason since following Reason often thwarts our happiness.  Instinct, he argues, is best suited to happiness; Reason most likely will steer us away from earthly happiness, though divine reward will follow in the next life.  The instinct argument is in the Foundations, section I; the afterlife discussion is in Kant , 1958, Critique of Practical Reason , Lewis White Beck trans. (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill),Bk II, Chap. II.

[5]. A common mistake in interpreting Kant's second formulation of the Categorical Imperative is to substitute 'person' for humanity.  Thus it is said that Kant told us to treat persons as ends-in-themselves.  This is misleading since Kant deliberated emphasized rationality as that which we should protect.  Our humanity, is our rationality.  Remember, it is our rational volition that gives us dignity and not price.  Animals, on the other hand have only price and hence are neither obliged my morality nor directly protected by it.  For his discussion of humanity as an end-in-itself, see his Foundations, Section II.  On the latter point concerning duties to animals, see his book , 1963, Lectures on Ethics, Louis Infield, trans. (Indianapolis: Hackett), "Duties Towards Animals and Spirits" and "Duties Towards Inanimate Objects."

[6].  See J.S. Mill, 1979,  Utilitarianism (Indianapolis: Hackett), p.4

[7].  For instance, emotivism grew out of the non-cognitivism of Hume and Bentham.  See A.J. Ayer, 1946,  Language, Truth and Logic (New York: Dover) as a representative of this view.

[8].  For one interpretation of Leopold's position, see J. Baird Callicott, In Defense of the Land Ethic (New York: SUNY, 1989), p. 16.

[9]. I once had a student comment to the class that she does not like traveling through the Osceola National Forest along Interstate Highway 10 because it gets boring without anything to look at; and that she prefers it when there are billboards.

[10]. See Mill’s Utilitarianism, p.1.  See also John Dewey, 1948, Reconstruction in Philosophy, 2nd ed. (Boston: Beacon), introduction.

[11]. The connection of the following to A. N. Whitehead should be apparent.  Mead, in particular, is quick to acknowledge his debt to Whitehead's process philosophy.  See Whitehead, 1978, Process and Reality, David Ray Griffin and Donald W. Sherburne, eds. (New York: Free Press).

[12]. Mead discusses this point in The Philosophy of the Act in the essays entitled "Mechanical and Teleological Objects" and "Form and Environment." For a full treatment of these essays and their relation to environmentalism, See Ari Santas, "The Environmental Value in G.H. Mead's Cosmology," in Andrew Light and Eric Katz, eds., Environmental Pragmatism (London: Routledge, 1996), pp. 73-83.

[13].  See John Dewey, 1939, "Theory of Valuation," in International Encyclopedia of Unified Science (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago) vol. II, no. IV.

[14].  It is interesting to note how the concept of democracy dovetails here with the dynamism of nature.  The continuum under discussion, where no member is inherently more valuable, is the sort of continuum we would hope for in our institutions.  As democracy is a key concept for the social theories of both Dewey and Mead, there is fertile ground here for determining the naturalistic foundations of democracy.

[15].  Nevertheless, we can certainly understand the adoption of that attitude. It's the same one a child adopts when it wants its way.  It's also the attitude we must adopt when struggling for survival.

[16].  I’m reminded here of Ishmael’s jellyfish analogy in Daniel Quinn’s novel, Ishmael.  A space-traveling anthropologist comes upon a jellyfish and asks him about the evolution of life on its planet.  The story ends with the jellyfish describing the culmination of evolution with his own species, ignoring even the possibility of life beyond his own kind.  See Daniel Quinn, 1992, Ishmael, (New York: Bantam), Chap. 3.

[17]. Mark Sagoff has some good arguments against the use of Cost-Benefit analyses.  See, for instance, his "Why Efficiency Is Not Enough," in Beauchamp and Bowie, eds. , 1988, Ethical Theory and Business, 3rd ed. (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall), pp. 176-81.

[18].  See Eugene Hargrove, "Weak Anthropocentric Intrinsic Value" in Monist, Vol. 75 No. 2 (April 1992), pp. 183-207.

[19]. Actually what Aristotle had done, but this time we're doing it without fixed goals pre-ordained from the beginning.

[20]. Unless of course we're Berkelian-style phenomenalists, but then again, even Berkeley shied from such a conclusion by positing the existence of God.  Of course one could argue that the concepts involved in a valuation are human constructs, and this I suspect is true, but few people seriously believe that there is not something there that we are referring to when we use words like 'fish' and 'alligator.'

[21]. Indeed, they often defy and thwart them.

[22]. See Dewey, 1934, Art As Experience (New York: Perigee), esp. chaps. VII and VIII.

[23].  Convincing them is certainly one of our goals.  I believe that coming to a core of agreement on what value is will facilitate the education process.

[24]. Kids using their mothers' spoons for digging in the garden comes to mind, as does the use of sex organs for recreation.  It is this break from convention that characterizes art for more than one aesthetician.  Dewey, for instance, following Pater and Wilde, holds this view.

[25].  In the past, such uncertainty has been used against regulation and protection. We can now turn the argument around and show that given the risks, the burden of proof should be on the developer or polluter, not the regulator.  After all, what could be a better expression of conservatism than a desire to conserve and protect our home!

[26]. It can also guide us in deciding which natural objects need the most protection by instructing us to find the ones that are most intrinsic to the system.

[27].  See Dewey's "Theory of Valuation," esp. Section VI.

[28].  Perhaps one more way in which pragmatism is "a new name for an old way of thinking."

[29]. Compare to R.M. Hare's notion of "supervenience" in Hair, 1952,   Language  of  Morals  (Oxford:  Clarendon  Press,),   pp  83-87.