Rolston's CNV Ch 5: Anthropocentric Values
- SECTION 1: HUMAN VALUES CARRIED BY NATURE
- The 14 types of value "carried by nature" each has components that do
not "put humans at the center" (not anthropocentric).
- Even though the chapter is called "anthropocentric values"
- Rolston is pushing nonanthropocentric values and a
nonanthropocentric environmental phil.
- But he thinks anthropocentric values are important too
- For different senses of "anthropocentric value" see typology of environmental
- Which values are least/most anthropocentric?
- Most: Economic value (but nature has to be fertile for this to be
possible); Cultural symbolization value? (Bald eagle)
- Least: Biodiversity value? Life value?
- Aesthetic and religious value of nature (instrumental/intrinsic?)
- Only for humans is the world religious (and aesthetic?)
- If focus on the experience, seems anthropocentric
- If focus on what experience is about, what is going on is a
recognition of non-instrumental value; an appreciation of
nature for what it is in-itself; a response that acknowledges
value beyond utilitarian value, namely that nature is a place
of god and intense beauty
- SECTION 2: WINNING OR LOSING IN ENVIRONMENTAL
- Rolston's assessment of the potential conflict between nature and
- Exploration of the (Bryan Norton's) convergence thesis (and
Peter Wenz's synergism view): That concern for humans and
concern for nature will coincide & lead to the same environmental policies
- Not always a conflict; Are win-win situations/dimensions to the
relationship between nature/culture:
- The entwined destinies view: Human destiny is entwined with
nature's destiny (and vice versa?)
- Humans are biological, beings who have an ecology and need
ecological services and goods to survive.
- In the end, a culture that sacrifices some cultural "development"
for the sake of natural integrity and biodiversity will be a better
culture for living harmoniously with nature (p. 144-145)
- But there is also genuine conflict to the nature/culture relationship
- "Culture does have to eat nature"
- Peculiar human excellence-culture (with its agricultural and
technical dimensions)-not possible without capturing natural
values for cultural use
- Sacrificing some pristine nature necessary to develop
- Not saying the way/extent we traded these values (nature for
culture) was necessary; we could have done much better (but
some sacrifice was necessary) 144
- At this point in history (where nature is over-exploited and
culture is over-developed) no further harming nature to
develop culture is beneficial/acceptable 144
- Not only does it maximize the sum total of cultural and
natural values to leave pristine nature along, but it even
maximizes solely cultural values
- Culture gains more by leaving the remaining relatively
pristine nature alone, than by converting it to more culture
- "We will have some (but not all) of nature; We will have enough,
not maximum cultural development" (145)
- This makes sense if it means to limit quantity of cultural artifacts
- Problematic if it means we must limit the quality of cultural
- We can and should continue to improve ("develop"culture) and
perhaps we can do so without destroying more nature
- Though it might be the case that qualitative improvements in
culture can only be had by additional sacrifice of nature
- To this Rolston would say:
- To improve culture, you don't need to take more from
nature, but redistribute within culture or improve the
efficiency of culture
- Natural value is so scarce and valuable today that if
cultural improvement were only possible by taking more
from nature, the loss of natural value would outweigh any
cultural gain as would the loss of cultural value that
depends on natural value
- Ned is considering the idea that human flourishing need not feed on the
wholesale destruction of nature
- I'd like to reject the idea that culture, civilization, and technology
(what makes us human) necessarily destroys nature
- Reject the assumption that humanity necessarily degrades nature
- SECTION 3: RICH AND POOR--POPULATION AND
- Rolston's analysis of the interrelated problems of
- Poverty: Desperate poverty in non-industrialized world
- Overpopulation: Exploding population growth in non-industrialized world
- Cultural growth is cancerous (explosive unregulated
- 90 million new people a year, 85 million in nonindustrial
- Mistake to say only problem is unequal distribution of
wealth and not population
- Unjust distribution: Mal-distribution of wealth
- A North American consumes 200 times as much energy as
person in the third world
- But the skewed distribution of income and land true for
both North and South
- Brazil most skewed income distribution in world and
1% of Brazilians own 45% of agricultural land
- Is it illegitimate for South to expect North to address
North/South inequities before they address inequities in
- Over-consumption: Obscene over-consumption in
- Uncontrolled consumption as cancerous as uncontrolled
- 5 million new people in the industrial countries will put as
much strain on the earth as the 85 million new poor in the
- Main point: Better to fix the problems of poverty within society (by
redistributing wealth) than to sacrifice remnant natural values
- Sacrificing more nature won't fix the problem, only postpone it
- Appeal to more economic growth and development, won't fix the
- SECTION 4: HUMAN RIGHTS TO DEVELOPMENT
- Poor's right to destroy nature to survive: Doesn't a poor person
who will starve otherwise have a right to tear down the rainforest to
feed his family?
- Doesn't this right override the conservation of natural value?
- Rolston's answer: It is not clear; this is a serious right, but not an
absolute one; needs to be weighed against and can be outweighed by
sufficiently high natural values
- One person alone may have a right, but when thousands also
have the alleged right, this will destroy the commons
- Poor don't have a right to develop in any way they please but a
right to equitable distribution of goods (from the wealthy who
falsely believe the have an absolute right to their wealth)
- May indigenous peoples develop?
- Can indigenous peoples--who have lived sustainably for
generations off of the rainforest--modernize/develop?
- Specifically, should they get modern medicine/technology,
enable them to multiply/overpopulate
- Do they have a right to develop into modern peoples if this
means destroying the rainforest?
- Rolston's response: They can modernize and develop but only if do so
elsewhere; i.e., they must relocate.
- Developable people are relocatable
- If stay, must do so under traditional lifestyles
- Do have right to develop, but only if do so elsewhere
- What if government doesn't provide development elsewhere, as
they ought to?
- We accept forced relocation in other cases
- For building dams
- When business close factories and tell their employees to move if
want to keep their job)
- If we accept relocation for development, why not accept it for the
protection of wild nature?
- We frequently tell people what can and can't do on their lands
- Land ownership is an imperfect right
- SECTION V: DEMOCRACY, ECONOMICS AND ENVIRONMENT
- Skepticism about the view that the market alone is needed to turn human society towards a more environmentally friendly one
- "Concerning nature is largely a matter of getting the appropriate market incentives into place"
- View can be called "free market environmentalism"
- A view Rolston rejects
- Many natural values are not economic and can't be properly assessed economically or in a market
- Need democracy to address these values and adjudicate between conflicts over these value
- Need to regulate capitalism, in order to (e.g.) internalize external costs.
- Economics and the market appeals to self-interest, while democracy allows appeal to the common interest and thus democratically sanction law and regulation frees us from narrow self-interest concerns.
- What people want as consumers and what they believe is right as citizens often diverge
- Can democracy discipline itself enough to be environmentally rational?
- Some have though not and called for a kind of eco-authoritarianism
- SECTION VII: HUMAN EXCELLENCES AND NATURAL VALUES
- Rolston argues against the idea that the main or only reason we should protect natural values is because it makes us better (more virtuous, more excellent) humans
- He worries about Bryan Norton's "weak anthropocentrism" claims to this effect
- That by valuing nature it transforms who we are and makes us better people and this is the reason we should value nature
- Rolston thinks this position reduces in the end to a kind of anthropocentrism
- Our real, ultimate goal is to become better people
- Why value nature for its own sake? So we can become more virtuous people
- Rolston admits this is true, but thinks it is the wrong reason for valuing nature
- We ought to value nature because it is valuable in itself or worthy of being valued for its own sake, and not because it makes us better people
- How could it make us better people to value something that was not itself valuable?
- Conserving whales, not for the whale's sake (in the end), but for our sake is misses the point