Jamieson on Ways of Valuing Nature

Valuing reconsidered, the plurality of values, prudential values and aesthetic values, pp.. 153-162


1.      These 4 senses of intrinsic value are fairly independent

         a.      End valuing does not commit one to objective value

                   i.       IV (1) in sense of end value does not entail IV (4) objective value

                   ii.      One might value something intrinsically (as an end) and yet deny it has value apart from that act of valuing

                   iii.     Sometimes people reject notion of intrinsic value because they don’t believe in objective value, but valuing something as an end does not entail objective value (is compatible with the view that all value is valuing, that is, dependent on a valuer)

         b.      Intrinsic valuing in the second sense (seeing things as morally considerable) is not the only way of intrinsically valuing

                   i.       Might deny things (e.g., glaciers) are morally considerable (intrinsic value sense 2) (perhaps because the don’t have morally considerable interests) but intrinsically value them as of ultimate, end value (intrinsic value sense 1)


2.      Jamieson’s view: Stop moral considerability at sentient beings (he’s a sentiocentrist) and then use intrinsic valuing (sense 1) (ultimate end value) to protect rest of nature

3.      Virtues of Jamieson’s approach

         a.      Can value non-sentient nature without establishing that such nature has interests as one must do for moral considerability

         b.      Interests for trees? (Then need to worry about machines interests)

         c.      Interests for rocks? Crazy

         d.      Interests for ecosystems? Can’t determine what they are


4.      For Jamieson there is no assumption that what is morally considerable is more important morally than what is not morally considerable but is intrinsically valued (or instrumentally valued)

         a.      It might be more important to protect a glacier that we intrinsically value (but is not morally considerable) than to protect a bear (which is morally considerable)

         b.      One implication of this is that anthropocentrists and sentiocentrists can deny that nature is morally considerable but still value nature intrinsically (and strongly)


5.      Assumption that what is valued intrinsically is more important than what is valued instrumentally is false

         a.      We can value things urgently, intensely and even desperately yet not value them intrinsically

         b.      Rope that holds you as you hang over a cliff is valued only instrumentally, but much more intensely than the stamp collection that one intrinsically values

         c.      Criticism: Yes, but the only reason the thing valued instrumentally is more valuable is because it is a means to an intrinsic value (your life) that is much more valuable

                   i.       Your life is intrinsically more valuable than your stamp collection

                   ii.      So it is not an instrumental value outweighing an intrinsic value, but really a conflict between two intrinsic values


6.      Prudential values (nature’s instrumental value to humans)

         a.      Nature is valuable for our flourishing and survival

         b.      Like a crew of a spaceship, we should take care of our earth

         c.      Yearly value of ecosystem services provided for free by the biosphere estimated to be equal to the value of GNP of all nations of the world

7.      Problems with prudential values

         a.      Every species ought to be preserved because for all we know a plant we drive extinct might contain a cure for cancer

                   i.       “Sure and someday Jamieson may play in the World Cup” (the argument that we should not drive a species extinct because we might find a use for it is weak because the probabilities are ridiculously low)

         b.      Ignores the good prudential values on the side of destroying nature

                   i.       What drives species extinct are activities from which people benefit; real money being made from mining and farming that is deforesting Amazonia

         c.      Need to find good reasons for protecting nature that are not just prudential, cost-benefit reasons


8.      Natural beauty is important part of, but only part, of the reason why we should protect nature

9.      Beauty moves us (perhaps more than ethics!)

10.    Beauty’s value transcends pleasure

         a.      Experiencing beauty can improve us and change our lives

                   i.       Experiencing the Baroque Churches of Rome or a six-day backpacking trip improves us

                   ii.      Both can be life-changing experiences

11.    Authenticity matters for beauty

         a.      Las Vegas mock-up of Rome or Imax movie about nature can’t substitute for the real thing, no matter how much pleasure they give us

12.    Context matters in aesthetics

         a.      Seeing statue of reclining Buddha in London museum is different from seeing it in temple in Thailand

         b.      World of difference between seeing a cheetah in the zoo and seeing one on the Serengeti

         c.      London Bridge, Arizona

13.    Rarity matters in aesthetics

         a.      Only 36 of Vermeer’s paintings exist, each one more precious

         b.      Rare species or natural features more valuable than more common ones

14.    Difference natural and artistic beauty

         a.      Art was intentionally designed and its appreciation should be affected by that

15.    Environmentalists have tended to de-emphasize natural beauty (though clear very important in explaining why we value nature)

         a.      Why?

                   i.       Apparent subjectivity of experience of beauty

                   ii.      Apparent triviality of such experiences

                   iii.     Jamieson thinks beauty neither trivial or idiosyncratic


16.    Jamieson thinks beauty judgments involve both subjectivity and objectivity

         a.      Aesthetic value tied to human experience and in that sense subjective

17.    Objectivity dimension of beauty claims:

         a.      Some beauty claims we regard as obvious and objectively true and someone who denies them isn’t just a person with different taste, but there is something about the world this person does not understand.

         b.      Examples

                   i.       Michelangelo’s David is beautiful

                   ii.      Yosemite Valley is beautiful

                   iii.     Angelina Jolie is beautiful

18.    Our responses to beauty as reliable as our responses to color

         a.      When people’s aesthetic faculties are working properly

         b.      Increasing empirical evidence for tight correlation between features of the world and our experiences of beauty

19.    The sublime

         a.      The experience of the sublime a different aesthetic response to nature than the experience of nature’s beauty

         b.      Often associated with experience of mountains/oceans

         c.      Experience of wonder, awe, astonishment, admiration, reverence, and respect

         d.      Also includes negative emotions like fear, dread , terror

         e.      Experience of greatness, significance and power in response to immensity, infinity, magnitude and grandeur

Questions on Jamieson on Ways of Valuing Nature

1.      Does end valuing (IV1) imply there is objective intrinsic value (IV4)? Why or why not?

2.      If something is not morally considerable (IV2), does that mean we can’t intrinsically value it as an end (IV1?)

3.      What is Jamieson’s view of moral considerability? Does this mean he does not intrinsically value non-sentient nature?

4.      Does Jamieson think that beings who are morally considerable get protection before beings who are not morally considerable but intrinsically valued as an end?

5.      Does Jamieson think that what is intrinsically valuable is more important than what is instrumentally valuable? What is his example to dispute this? Do you agree with his argument here?

6.      What is “prudential value” of nature? Does Jamieson think this is a good reason for valuing nature? Does he think it is the only good reason? Does he think it is a sufficient reason?

7.      Does Jamieson think nature’s aesthetic value is a good reason to protect it? Does he think it is a sufficient reason?

8.      Using examples, explain how authenticity, context, and rarity play a role in aesthetic value.

9.      Does Jamieson think aesthetic value is best understood as pleasure?

10.    What does it mean to say nature’s beauty is subjective? Objective? Which of these does Jamieson argue for and how?