Deep Ecology and the Multifaceted Articulation of Value

By Adam Riggio.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In his essays which serve as the foundation of the philosophy of environmental ethics called deep ecology, Arne Naess describes this philosophy as a recognition of the intrinsic value of nature itself. He opposes this “value objectivism” to “value subjectivism,” the latter being the idea that reality is value neutral, and that values are inventions of humans which we shoehorn onto reality. But the idea of non-human things having intrinsic value faces a powerful challenge in the critiques of traditional moral philosophy over the twentieth century, which has cast inescapable doubt on the possibility of anything having immutable, unchanging, intrinsic value. I think deep ecology can move beyond this impasse, understanding values as neither exclusively made by humans, nor as intrinsic to non-human elements of reality. Human worldly activity constitutes values as abstract principles in our systems of understanding, which are derived from our priorities of action. But the worldly actions of all organisms have priorities, and we can understand these priorities as the values of non-human organisms. The only difference between humans and other organisms is that human language can articulate priorities as words in addition to actions. This philosophy is not value objectivism, nor is it value subjectivism; I call it value multiplicity. This paper is an introduction to this idea of the self-constituting multiplicity of value.

Keywords: Environmental Ethics, Deep Ecology, Multiplicity, Arne Naess

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp.35-44. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 591.270KB).

Adam Riggio

Graduate Student, Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Adam Riggio is a PhD candidate in philosophy at McMaster University in Canada. His major work currently focusses on developing alternative approaches to environmental philosophy. He has also published and presented in political philosophy, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language.

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