Practical Philosophy Webinar: Espen Dyrnes Stabell
"Why environmental philosophers should be ‘buck-passers’ about value"
Value theory is central to environmental ethics, which studies the value and moral status of the environment and its non-human contents. A variety of values have been proposed and discussed in environmental ethics, and there has been extensive debate over the value of different parts of nature. However, there has been less discussion about how to understand the concept of value and its relation to reasons and normativity. This paper defends a buck-passing account of value, which holds that for an entity or state of affairs in nature to be intrinsically (non-instrumentally) valuable is for it to have properties (other than that of being valuable) that provide reasons to promote or have a pro-attitude towards it. It is argued that in spite of some difficulties with the account, environmental philosophers should prefer it to ‘common-sense’ views treating values themselves as reason-providing properties of (things or states of affairs in) nature. The paper concludes by discussing some implications the buck-passing account may have for research in environmental ethics.