“Preserving an endangered species or ecosystems poses no special conceptual problem when the instrumental value of that species or ecosystem is known.” This idea is very problematic. If it is so, there is no need to discuss the justification of environmentalist movements. We have to decide which individual, species, ecosystem in what degree possesses the properties that makes it instrumentally valuable. In addition to that, we conclude that there are individuals, species, ecosystems whose instrumental value is not designated. They can be instrumentally insignificant, intrinsically valuable and unvaluable at all. He says that a species is instrumentally valuable if it has a known value as resource for human use. What things are not instrumentally valuable?
Windelband states that “Value…is never found in the object itself as a property. It consists in a relation to an appreciating mind…. Take away will and feeling there is no such thing as value.” I value. This is all one can conclude after considering value-ability. Whether will, feeling, consciousness, taking an object in interest whatever it is, there is something that makes humans different from all the others. This difference causes humans to value outer world, to measure things. Rolston states that:
We humans carry the lamp that lights up value, although we require the fuel that nature provides. Actual value is an event in our consciousness, though natural items while still in the dark of value have potential intrinsic value. Man is the measure of things, said Protagoras. Humans are the measurers, the valuers of things, even when we measure what they are in themselves.
We only measure according to our standards, our scales. Hence, when valuing we do not locate any value on anything. Assume that all individuals on earth become unaware of the art of Leonardo. Does his Mona Lisa lose its value? It does not. Whether one measures it or not, it does not gain or lose any value. Up to now we have two conclusions. First humans value things and the second we do not locate something on the object taken in interest when we value it.
Do any other thing in nature value? Is value anthropogenic? Instrumental value is anthropogenic. What about intrinsic value? Rolston in his essay says that tourists value giant sequoia trees intrinsically but local people value sequoias instrumentally since they use them as timber. This intrinsic value is non-instrumental value. If one thing seems to be valuable but useless, we then say the value here is intrinsic. Therefore, if everything has a value in nature, those which we can not make use of or do not satisfy our needs are intrinsically valuable.
Rolston says that “there is no better evidence of non-human values and valuers than spontaneous wildlife, born free and on its own. The key word in this sentence is spontaneous. From Concise Oxford Thesaurus its opposites are: “planned, calculated, conscious, voluntary, inhibited.” Now remember the things he says when he is explaining human value-ability. When there is spontaneity there is no consciousness, involuntary actions are taking place. Hence spontaneous wildlife can not be an evidence of non-human valuers. A rock is also protecting its integrity spontaneously. Does it value this state? After years pass, it can become soil, support life. Are all rocks doing badly those which yet have not transformed into soil? Did either of the molecules choose the state it is in?
Genes are algorithms. Environmental inputs are processed and outputs are produced. It is like a computer program. If genes are the causes of value-ability in organisms, computers are also able to value. A program can ask you to enter an integer, you enter and it gives you a result. It is a normative set, just the way a gene is.
Something is valuable if it takes advantage of environment. A car can benefit from its environment. It uses petrol as resource and turns the potential energy in it into kinetic energy. It actually benefits, takes advantage of environment. A car like a plant can do things that interest us but they are not interested in what they are doing.
There is a loose relation between compartments of ecosystems. In an organism, each organ has a specific role. Biotic and abiotic components of ecosystems are trading their products. At this instant of life, ecosystems have not evolved yet to be called as compact organisms.
Value is generated by valuers. The locus and the source of value is the same. It is human consciousness. If we consider a life with out human, everything does not lose its value. There is a systemic value in nature. Philosophers seeks a valuable thing other than human because in his words “Finding that valuable thing will generate a global sense of obligation.”
While considering the role of intrinsic value in environmental ethics, he says that:
The existence of intrinsic value needs to be acknowledged, to serve as the limit to anthropocentric instrumentalism; but this value need not be totally articulated or justified, for it is not the ground of all obligations. The problem of intrinsic value in nature is a problem that does not require a solution; it is enough to know that some kind of non-anthropocentric value exists, even if the description of this value remains unclear.
This idea is very important. Intrinsic value should be limiting the anthropocentric instrumentalism. Environmental ethics can not be based solely on the existence of some intrinsically valuable things in nature. It is so because; intrinsic value deals with individuals rather than the systems. Environmental ethics, as clearly understood from its name, deals with the interdependent objects. Individuals form populations, populations biota, biotic and abiotic environments form ecosystems, ecosystems form earth…the dependency start from atoms, goes to the nature, the universe. “Intrinsic value is too internal and elementary; it forgets the relatedness and externality.”
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