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Does the non-human natural world have an intrinsic value (independent of human interests)? What qualities or characteristics bestow value?

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Introduction

Chrystal Fortugno Philosophy 102 April 29, 2003 Q: Does the non-human natural world have an intrinsic value (independent of human interests)? What qualities or characteristics bestow value? When it comes to the question of non-human rights and the value of nature, there are adamant advocates, those who completely disagree with particular values and rights for the ecosystem, and those could care less. For myself, I believe I have fallen somewhat in between these extremes and have honestly never really considered the idea of intrinsic value and certain rights for the non-human natural world. Singer, Baxter, Steinbock and Callicott (with the words and ideas of Leopold) each have very different ideas about animal rights and the concept of the non-human natural world having a value by itself, regardless of human interests. I will briefly go over the ideas of Baxter and Callicott and add my own views to their ideas and my thoughts on their respective points of view. Baxter's focus and main idea in the essay "People or Penguins" is to say that the only value the natural world has lies in regard to how it benefits human interests. ...read more.

Middle

Although I do agree with Baxter that it is in human's interests to preserve the environment, but this is because there are many essential functions that humans cannot perform themselves. For instance, the example of bees pollinating flowers, is it a viable probability that humans would be able to find a way to perform this function? Also, the internalization of carbon dioxide and the regeneration of oxygen that trees perform, is it possible for humans to perform such a function? In Baxter's essay, he says that it would be difficult if not impossible to designate representatives to focus on non-human interests, however, I think it would rather simple. There are people who make it their life's work to study everything there is to know about animals and plant life; wouldn't it be fairly simple to appoint them? In short, although I understand Baxter's view and his rationale, I think he defends it in a rather pompous un-thought out type of way. ...read more.

Conclusion

I agree with Callicott in the idea that a thing is right that preserves the integrity and beauty of the environment. This also goes somewhat with Baxter's view that what's good for us is good for them. It seems that despite entirely different focuses and ideas about the rights and value of the biotic community, Baxter and Callicott perhaps have a bit more in common than it may seem at first glance. As far as my own personal opinion, I seem to fall somewhere in between the views of Baxter and Callicott. Although I do believe that the non-human natural world does have value aside from human interests, I also think that it is nearly impossible to measure because it's difficult to assess what would happen to the biotic community without humans in it. Although it is pretty safe to assume that it would probably go on in its normal manner, because humans have been proven to destroy it, it is impossible to ever really know for sure. Perhaps humans serve some function that has yet to have been identified. ...read more.

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