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Values & Ethics Instrumental or Utilitarian. Values & Ethics. Conservation biologists tend to have a skewed perspective of the value of biodiversity and tend to think others share their perspective

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Values & Ethics Instrumental or Utilitarian

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values ethics
Values & Ethics
  • Conservation biologists tend to have a skewed perspective of the value of biodiversity and tend to think others share their perspective
  • Because so much of conservation biology lies outside the realm of biology, it is in the biologists
values ethics1
Values & Ethics
  • Environmental philosophers tend to divide value into to main types: instrumental or utilitarian & intrinsic or inherent
  • Utilitarian is the value that something has as a means to another’s ends
  • Intrinsic is the value that something has as an end in itself
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Values & Ethics
  • Humans view themselves as having great intrinsic value, but the intrinsic value of the rest of biodiversity is of great debate
  • As a consequence of the rather recent and somewhat provocative suggestion, many conservation adhere to a strictly utilitarian perspective (a very anthropocentric view)
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Values & EthicsInstrumental or Utilitarian
  • Three basic categories: goods, services and information (but we could also add a psycho-spiritual value)
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Values & EthicsInstrumental or Utilitarian
  • Goods: humans use many living things for many purposes (e.g. food, shelter)
  • While humans consume >12,000 sp of plants, most routinely eat 6-8 cultivated crops (and rice and wheat are huge)
  • Only a small fraction of plants have been investigated for their potential as food, medicine, or fiber
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Values & EthicsInstrumental or Utilitarian
  • For example, the Madagascar periwinkle was ‘discovered’ in the 1950’s and is now the preferred treatment for childhood leukemia
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Values & EthicsInstrumental or Utilitarian
  • Services: there are many services provided by functioning ecosystems
  • If the Gaia Hypothesis is correct, then salinity and temperature are organically regulated
  • The human economy is just a sub-economy of nature’s economy
  • Clearly, our impact is felt in virtually every aspect of worldwide ecosystems
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Values & EthicsInstrumental or Utilitarian
  • Information: each species’ genome is a storehouse of information
  • Given all the potential uses of genetically engineering ‘everything’, genes can be thought of as invaluable
  • As we discussed, we have only discovered 20-40% of species
  • Consequently, one could argue preservation is simply in our self-interest
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Values & EthicsInstrumental or Utilitarian
  • Psycho-spiritual: Aldo Leopold had hoped through science, people would acquire “a refined tasted in natural objects”
  • Wilson finds a special wonder, awe, and mystery in nature-which he calls “biophilia”, which he suggests lies at the foundations of a religion of natural history
values ethics intrinsic values
Values & EthicsIntrinsic Values
  • Intrinsic value cannot be further reduced or categorized
  • It is discussed in terms of the sorts of things that may possess intrinsic value and whether intrinsic value exists objectively or is subjectively conferred
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Values & EthicsIntrinsic Values
  • The biocentric environmental philosophers who claim that intrinsic value exists objectively in human beings and other organisms as follows: an organism is self-organizing and self-directed
  • How are organisms self-directed?
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Values & EthicsIntrinsic Values
  • Interests may be intelligibly attributable to organisms, but not to machines
  • However, conservation biologists are really not interested in the well-being of individuals, but rather the preservation of species, health and integrity of ecosystems, and evolutionary and ecological processes
values ethics intrinsic values3
Values & EthicsIntrinsic Values
  • Rolston argues that because a basic evolutionary “goal” of an organism is to reproduce, its species is therefore one of its primary goods
  • Since species evolve in a matrix of ecosystems, they too have value
  • Evolutionary processes, going back to the Big Bang, produced beings with goods of their own, they also have intrinsic value
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Values & EthicsIntrinsic Values
  • Finally, the diversity of organisms existed before we did and facilitated our own evolution, therefore it also has intrinsic value
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Values & EthicsIntrinsic Values
  • More strictly following the classical distinction between objective “facts” and subjective values, some environmental philosophers argue that all value, including intrinsic value, is subjectively conferred (i.e. no conscious subjects, no value)
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Values & EthicsIntrinsic Values
  • Since we can confer value onto other subjects, other species and the hierarchically ordered biotic communities and ecosystems to which we human being belong are-no less than our fellow human beings and our hierarchically ordered human communities-the sorts of entities that we should value intrinsically
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Values & EthicsIntrinsic Values
  • It is important to remember intrinsic and utilitarian values are not mutually exclusive and can be valued for both their utility and themselves
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Values & EthicsIntrinsic Values
  • In fact, some (e.g. Norton) have argued that some environmental philosophers have done more harm than good for the cause of conservation
  • Why? Because the intrinsic value issue divides conservations into two mutually suspicious factions-anthropocentrics vs. the bio- and ecocentrists
values ethics intrinsic values9
Values & EthicsIntrinsic Values
  • Ecocentrists regard anthropocentrists as “shallow resourcists” and the later think ecocentrists have gone off the deep end
  • Norton argues that we really don’t need to appeal to the intrinsic value of biodiversity to base conservation policy
values ethics intrinsic values10
Values & EthicsIntrinsic Values
  • Attributing intrinsic value to biodiversity, however, makes a practical difference in one fundamental way that Norton seems not to have considered
  • If biodiversity’s intrinsic value were as widely recognized as is the intrisic value of human beings, would it make much difference?
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Values & EthicsIntrinsic Values
  • It might if we consider shifting the burden of proof
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Values & Ethics
  • Monetizing the value of biodiversity, where the instrumental value to humans is expressed in monetary terms, is a technical task for economists
  • While some environmental economists explicitly endorse a strict anthropocentrism
  • However, even the intrinsic value of biodiversity can be taken into account in an economic assessment of conservation goals
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Values & Ethics
  • Considered the actual market value for some endangered species: elephants, rhinos, baleen whales, and tigers all have high economic values
  • Can this be used to conserve a species?
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Values & Ethics
  • Myers suggests using modern economic theory, which necessitates transforming a species’ market price from a conservation liability into a conservation asset is to take it out of a condition that economists call a “commons” and “enclose” it
  • Enclosing means assigning the rights to cull the species in question
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Values & Ethics
  • However, a wild species that has a market value is subject to over-harvesting when property rights to it cannot be legitimately asserted and enforced (but should work if protected)
  • This can lead to the “tragedy of the commons”
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Values & Ethics
  • A side note, another potential problem is the slow rate of return ($)
  • It has been argued that in some cases (e.g. blue whale) it is more economical to hunt animal to extinction and then invest the money
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Values & Ethics
  • Another potential pitfall of using a strictly utilitarian approach is potential goods, such as new foods, fuels, medicines and such, have NO market price
  • In the stock market they address this problem by using ‘options’ which is the amount people would be willing to pay in advance to guarantee an option for future use
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Values & Ethics
  • The option price for any given species maybe relatively small, given the small potential return
  • However, the sum option prices of the million or more species currently threatened with wholesale extinction might add up to a large sum
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Values & Ethics
  • Of course many species are going to have relatively little value
  • In fact, it is likely the species whose members are the fewest in number, the rarest, the most narrowly distributed-in short, the ones most likely to become extinct
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Values & Ethics
  • There are indirect market values placed on biodiversity such as user-fees (e.g. NP entrances, licenses)
  • Many environmental-economists attempt to expand the economic value to include other commodities (e.g. gas, lodging, food) when visiting these areas
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Values & Ethics
  • Economists also attempt to account for the “existence” value, in which people take some satisfaction in knowing that biodiversity is there and being protected
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Values & Ethics
  • One way to assess the “existence” value is to calculate the amount people contribute to organizations dedicated to protecting species, even if they may never see them
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Values & Ethics
  • It appears that we really have two parallel and mutually incommensurable systems for determining the value of things: the market and the ballot box
  • Everything can (and is) monetized, including you
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Values & Ethics
  • The ESA was a political attempt to stop monetizing biodiversity (recognizing the typical inherent tension between political and monetary values)
  • In 1978 the ESA was amended to create a high-level interagency committee “the God Squad” which could allow a project that put a listed species in jeopardy of extinction if economics justified it
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Values & Ethics
  • Snail Darter & TVA
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Values & Ethics
  • The approach advocated is using a safe minimum standard (SMS), an alternative to aggregating everything from the market price to the shadow price of price of biodiversity, then plugging it into a cost-benefit analysis
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Values & Ethics
  • The shift in the burden of proof according to the stand CBA vs. SMS
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Values & Ethics
  • In traditional Western religious and philosophical tradition, only humans are worth of ethical consideration
  • All else is typically regarded as just as a means to the ends
  • The term “dominion” is used to justify actions
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Values & Ethics
  • However, Norton has already shown that anthropocentrism can still be a strong advocate for biodiversity
  • An anthropocentric conservation ethic would require individuals, corporation, and other interest groups to fairly consider how their actions that directly affect the natural environment
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Values & Ethics
  • The problem of conservation is frequently framed as one of satisfying human needs and wants at the expense of other species
  • However, not all people equally share the burden of conservation
  • Who is taking on more of the burden?
  • Who is causing the problems?
values ethics judeo christian stewardship
Values & EthicsJudeo-Christian Stewardship
  • Stung by the allegation that the Judeo-Christian worldview was ultimately responsible for bringing about the contemporary environmental crisis, some environmentally concerned Christians and Jews have begun to challenge the traditional view of resource and biodiversity stewardship
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Values & EthicsJudeo-Christian Stewardship
  • There are many passages that suggests God wants his people to be a good steward over the planet and not a tyrant
  • How important is this?
values ethics judeo christian stewardship2
Values & EthicsJudeo-Christian Stewardship
  • Traditional non-Western views (e.g. Islam and Buddhism) are also world religions with millions of followers
  • Harvard has sponsored 13 conferences on “Religions of the World and Ecology”
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Values & EthicsJudeo-Christian Stewardship
  • Muslims believe that Islam was founded in the 7th century through Mohammed who believed himself a similar prophet as Moses and Jesus
  • Consequently, Muslim belief has much in common with basic Judeo-Christian worldviews (e.g. humans are privileged)
  • Muslims also do not differentiate secular and religious law… meaning??
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Values & EthicsJudeo-Christian Stewardship
  • There are many promising passages that include ‘man being only a manager of the earth and not a proprietor, a beneficiary not a disposer or ordainer” as well as “managing for future generations”
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Values & EthicsJudeo-Christian Stewardship
  • Emerson and Thoreau were both influenced by Hinduism
  • The idea is that God is not a supreme being among lesser and subordinate beings, but all beings are a manifestation of the one essential Being (Brahman)
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Values & EthicsJudeo-Christian Stewardship
  • Buddhism is based upon releasing oneself from desires
  • Hence the only way to reach what you desire is to not obtain what you desire
  • Buddhists believe that all living beings are companions on the path to Buddhahood and nirvana
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Values & Ethics
  • The Dalai Lama is taking a leadership role worldwide in environmentalism worldwide preaching the interconnectedness of everything and everyone
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Values & Ethics
  • About 20% of the world is Chinese and there is a good basis for environmentalism within their religious structure
  • Taoists believe there is a Tao, a Way, or natural way about things
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Values & EthicsJudeo-Christian Stewardship
  • Consider the flood of the MS Valley flood of 1993
  • The river was not managed with Tao with levees and flood wall which when breached, only exacerbated the big flood when it finally came
  • Instead of putting cities in the floodplain, farm it when feasible (not flooding)
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Values & EthicsJudeo-Christian Stewardship
  • Irrespective of which religion is in question, there has been a recent trend towards trying to develop and foster the link between religion and conservation