Jamieson on Intrinsic Value

pp. 68-75



1.      IV as end value; intrinsic value as contrasted with instrumental value

         a.      What is of ultimate moral value

         b.      Other things obtain their value by relation to what is of ultimate value

         c.      Instrumental value is what is valuable only because it is conducive to realization of intrinsic value in this sense

         d.      Example: Assume pleasure is of intrinsic value (end value) then skiing might be seen as valuable not for its own sake but because it produces pleasure (which is intrinsically valuable)


2.      IV as being morally considerable

         a.      IV as a ticket admitting one to moral community

         b.      Gives one moral standing

         c.      Object of primary moral concern

         d.      Beings who have intrinsic value (are morally considerable) are one’s whose good/interests must (morally should) figure in our decision making

         e.      Contrast is with “mere thingsthat do not matter in themselves

                   i.       And whose value is derivative from their relationship to things that are morally considerable

                   ii.      E.g., utilitarian artifacts (shirt, pencil, car) are not morally considerable, but are mere things


3.      IV as non-relational value

         a.      “Inherent value”

         b.      Value of the thing depends entirely on what inheres in the thing itself           

         c.      If the thing were the only item in the universe, it would still have that value

         d.      Note: That many environmental items are valued because they are unique and rare (endangered species)

                   i.       But uniqueness and rarity are relational properties

                   ii.      Whether or not something is rare depends on existence of other things

                   iii.     So if we value something because of its rarity we are not valuing it intrinsically in this sense


4.      IV as objective value

         a.      A type of value that can exist even if no one values it

         b.      Value independent of valuers

         c.      Many reject such value claiming that value is subjective in the sense that all value depends on a valuer

         d.      Last man argument for objective IV (p. 73-74)

                   i.       If the last sentient being that would ever life (just before he died) destroyed all the planet’s geology and biology, would he be doing something wrong?

                   ii.      Seems obvious that he did something wrong

                   iii.     Why? Because he destroyed something of incredible value

                   iv.     This seems to imply that intrinsic value can exist even when there are no valuers around (, i.e., no sentient beings)

         e.      Jamieson’s rejection of last man argument:

                   i.       We are experiencing this world in our imagination and this governs our response

                   ii.      Wrong here reflects a judgment of destroyer’s character: amazing act of cosmic vandalism

                   iii.     W      orry: Buy why is it vandalism unless he’s destroying something of value?

5.      Regress argument for IV (in first sense)

         a.      Can’t have an infinite chain (or circle) of instrumental value

         b.      If something is of instrumental value (valuable as a means) then something must be of intrinsic value (valuable as an end)

         c.      Only proves IV in sense of end value, not all four types of IV (and Jamieson doesn’t even think it proves existence of end value)


6.      Some valuable things seem neither to be clearly intrinsic (first sense of end value) nor instrumental

         a.      Examples of values that don’t fit either category

                   i.       Value photo of mother because represent one’s mother

                   ii.      Value tail-wagging of the dog next door because it reminds me of cheerful exuberance of my childhood dog

                   iii.     Value lover’s smile because it embodies her kindness and generosity

                   iv.     Value each step of ascent of Mt. Whitney as part of a valuable experience of climbing the mountain

         b.      Perhaps some of these are cases of both types of valuing?

Questions on Jamieson on Intrinsic Value

1.      What are the four different senses of intrinsic value that Jamieson discusses?

2.      What is the last man argument? Which type of intrinsic value is it an argument for? Is this a good argument?

3.      What is the regress argument for intrinsic value? Which type of value does it purport to prove exists? Is it a good argument?