The Use of the concept of intrinsic value in anthropocentric and non-anthropocentric approaches in environmental ethics: a metaethical investigation

Aydın Bayram, Selma
The concept of intrinsic value is one of the most disputed concepts of ethics, and in particular, environmental ethics. The traditional approaches towards nature are anthropocentric, attributing intrinsic value merely to human beings. Nowadays, environmental philosophers mostly try to distance themselves from anthropocentric attitudes, and they introduce ethical reasons, which do not consider nature merely instrumentally valuable. In general, environmental ethicists are prone to appeal to the concept of ‘intrinsic value’ to justify the necessity of enlarging the scope of moral concern. For this reason, in this dissertation, I aimed to clarify the role of the concept of ‘intrinsic value’ in environmental ethics and I present a metaethical analysis of this concept within anthropocentric and non-anthropocentric approaches. I discuss whether intrinsic value exists independently of a valuer, and specifically a human valuer, examining what ethicists mean by ‘intrinsic value’ and what they mean when they call something ‘intrinsically valuable’. In light of these discussions, contrary to defenders of objective value, like Moore, I defend the view that there would not be a value independently of a valuer and attribution of a value is a subjective act. I express that the subjective act of attributing value is related to the agent, but it need not be always for-agent’s-own sake. In other words, what I mean with ‘intrinsic value’ is not the value that is ‘in-itself’ owned by an object because of the object’s intrinsic properties; but the value ascribed to something ‘for-its-own-sake’, not for sake of consequences it might bring. Besides, on the basis of moral contractarianism and depending on Y. S. Lo’s “dispositional theory” grounded on Hume’s moral philosophy, I assert that subjectively attributed values can be universalized.


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Citation Formats
S. Aydın Bayram, “The Use of the concept of intrinsic value in anthropocentric and non-anthropocentric approaches in environmental ethics: a metaethical investigation,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2016.