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Wildness, Intrinsic and Instrumental Value

1. What is intrinsic and instrumental value? In your opinion, does nature have intrinsic or instrumental value?

2. Do you believe that wildness is an important environmental value? Why, or why not?

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The concepts of intrinsic and instrumental value are philosophic entities that have long been central to arguments in environmental ethics. According to John O'Neill, "to hold an environmental ethic is to hold that non-human beings and states of affairs in the natural world have intrinsic value" (Environmental Ethics, an Anthology. 2003. Blackwell Publishers, p.131) This may seem simple enough, but in practice the meanings of the terms are not all that easy to get a handle on or explain! I will therefore draw on as many sources as I can (and I will refer you to them as links when they are online) in my answer to your question.

To define these two concepts, I will draw again on the above resource, because there is an entire chapter devoted to teasing apart different "senses" of (especially intrinsic) value in O'Neill's book. He suggests that there are three inherently different meanings of the word intrinsic used interchangeably in the literature. The first meaning is that intrinsic is a synonym for non-instrumental value (which helps us to understand how intrinsic and instrumental value are related), and an object "has instrumental value in that it is a means to some other end". This "some other end" then, is ...

Solution Summary

Wildness, intrinsic and instrumental value is evaluated.