Jamieson on Ways of Valuing Nature (pp.. 153-162)

Valuing reconsidered, the plurality of values, prudential values and aesthetic values


1.      The 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.      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

         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) but intrinsically value them as of ultimate, end value (intrinsic value sense 1)


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

         a.      Virtues of Jamieson’s approach

                   i.       Can value non-sentient nature without establishing interests as one must for moral considerability

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

                            (2)    Interests for rocks? Crazy

                            (3)    Interests for ecosystems? Can’t determine what they are


3.      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)


4.      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.       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


5.       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


6.       Problems with prudential values

          a.       Implausible argument: 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”

          b.       Ignores that 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

          d.       Prudential reasons good reasons but there are other reasons too that are important; why constrain one’s argument for nature protection to only one type of reaons?


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

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

9.       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

10.     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

11.     Context matters in aesthetics

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

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

          c.       London Bridge, Arizona


12.     Rarity matters in aesthetics

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

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

13.     Difference natural and artistic beauty

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

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

          a.       Why?

          b.       Apparent subjectivity of experience of beauty

          c.       Apparent triviality of such experiences

          d.       Jamieson thinks beauty neither trivial nor idiosyncratic


15.     Jamieson thinks beauty judgments involve both subjectivity and objectivity

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

16.     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.       E.g.,

                    i.        Michelangelo’s David is beautiful


                    ii.       Yosemite Valley is beautiful


                    iii.      Angelina Jolie is beautiful

17.     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


18.     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