Evaluating whether nature's intrinsic value is an axiom of or anathema to conservation

  • Vucetich J
  • Bruskotter J
  • Nelson M
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Abstract

That at least some aspects of nature possess intrinsic value is considered by some an axiom of conservation. Others consider nature's intrinsic value superfluous or anathema. This range of views among mainstream conservation professionals potentially threatens the foundation of conservation. One challenge in resolving this disparity is that disparaging portrayals of nature's intrinsic value appear rooted in misconceptions and unfounded presumptions about what it means to acknowledge nature's intrinsic value. That acknowledgment has been characterized as vacuous, misanthropic, of little practical consequence to conservation, adequately accommodated by economic valuation, and not widely accepted in society. We reviewed the philosophical basis for nature's intrinsic value and the implications for acknowledging that value. Our analysis is rooted to the notion that when something possesses intrinsic value it deserves to be treated with respect for what it is, with concern for its welfare or in a just manner. From this basis, one can only conclude that nature's intrinsic value is not a vacuous concept or adequately accommodated by economic valuation. Acknowledging nature's intrinsic value is not misanthropic because concern for nature's welfare (aside from its influence on human welfare) does not in any way preclude also being concerned for human welfare. The practical import of acknowledging nature's intrinsic value rises from recognizing all the objects of conservation concern (e.g., many endangered species) that offer little benefit to human welfare. Sociological and cultural evidence indicates the belief that at least some elements of nature possess intrinsic value is widespread in society. Our reasoning suggests the appropriateness of rejecting the assertion that nature's intrinsic value is anathema to conservation and accepting its role as an axiom. Evaluar si el Valor Intrínseco de la Naturaleza es un Axioma o un Anatema para la Conservación

Author-supplied keywords

  • Anthropocentrism
  • Economic valuation
  • Environmental ethics
  • Environmental values
  • Non-anthropocentrism
  • Value orientations

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