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So I’ve been doing a lot of deep, back and forth thinking over the topic of whether or not our environment, as well as the components in which it is comprised of, hold intrinsic value and if they do, any conceivable manner that this value can be measured or observed.  To me it is obvious that our environment, nature, trees, and other living organisms that aren’t a part of the human species still have value, at LEAST some sort of value.  However, in the modern world it seems impossible to determine or devise a system for measuring each “thing’s” value.  Ideally our (humanity’s) instrumental values for the environment would align with what’s “ethical” in relation to the environment; so that our growing urge to consume and use the environment’s resources to further our own as well as society’s welfare were not negatively affecting that same environment. This could perhaps be impossible altogether.  Nonetheless, I still believe that Norton’s proposed value set on the basis of weak anthropocentrism is a place to start.  Weak anthropocentrism poses a middle ground between strong anthropocentrism and ecocentrism.

I do consider weak anthropocentrism to still underline a disconnect between humanity and the environment. Any instrumental value set that centers on what’s useful to humans can only contribute to separation from nature, but we can tighten that gap.  If the intrinsic value of nature is recognized than it may be possible to preserve it. It appears like the path we’re on today with exponential growth in technology we are becoming more focused on what the environment can do for us and how to use it rather than the consequences of having no more environment to use in the future. I do believe that humans can live with respect towards nature.

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One response »

  1. I ultimately agree with you that humans can possess a respect toward nature and live in affinity with it. However, I do not think this respect is going to come from recognition of nature’s and other species’ intrinsic value. That is a concept too far-removed from the human individual for many to be able to fathom; rather, I feel that ecological preservation rests on our ability to show concern for the continuation of the human race (as Norton would say). When framed this way, the average person will feel more inclined to be environmentally conscious when their children’s grandchildren, for instance, depend upon a healthy and preserved environment from which they can reap a variety of resources to sustain their livelihood.

    I loved reading your post…thank you! 🙂

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