Is There Intrinsic Value in Nature?

Essay by debrawrigleyUniversity, Bachelor's November 2008

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Intrinsic Value � PAGE �1�


Is There Intrinsic Value in Nature?

Debra A Foster

University of Maine at Farmington


Dr. George Miller



The definition of intrinsic and extrinsic (instrumental) value will be shown. The author will relate her own view of intrinsic and extrinsic value. The viewpoint of Aldo Leopold on the land ethic will be examined. This author's interpretation of Leopold's views will be presented. The extrinsic value of nature, as seen by William F. Baxter, will be examined. The author's reaction to Baxter's theory will be discussed. The author's own views on the intrinsic and objective value of nature will be put forth.


Is There Intrinsic Value in Nature?

Before intrinsic value can be discussed, a definition must be formulated. This term is used often in philosophy. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "The concept of intrinsic value has been characterized in terms of the value that something has "in itself," or "for its own sake," or "as such," or "in its own right."

(Zimmerman, 2003, p. 1)

The University of Washington offers this explanation: "Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic (Instrumental) Value: To understand the consequentialist theories, it is necessary to understand the distinction between intrinsic value and extrinsic

(Or instrumental) value.

1. Intrinsic Value: A thing has intrinsic value if it is valuable in itself--apart from any other considerations, including considerations of its effects.

2. Extrinsic Value: A thing has extrinsic value in virtue of its capacity to produce something of value--ultimately, something of intrinsic value. (All chains of extrinsic value terminate in something of intrinsic value.)"(University of Washington, 2003, p. 2, para. 1)

The first explanation by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy seems to be saying that a thing has intrinsic value just because it...