The Value of Nature
Humans project the value of nature because humans are the only beings that are able to produce rational thoughts and are therefore, the only beings that value. Since humans are the only beings that value, they are inherently the only things that determine the value of other things. In addition to my main thesis, I will address where the value in nature originates by explaining the disjoint relationship between humans and non-humans. Expanding on my thesis, I will prove the projection view is correct by showing that all arguments for the recognition view appeal to projection. Projection, meaning, humans project value on to nature rather than recognition, meaning, humans recognize the intrinsic value of nature. The value of nature is a contentious issue that not only concerns environmental ethicists, but also everyday people around the world. As our world becomes more technologically dependent, it seems that we are becoming less concerned with nature. In deciding the future of our planet, it is important that we explore the value of nature and the consequence of destroying it. I will reference and utilize quotes by Holmes Rolston III from his novel, A New Environmental Ethics, as I evaluate the Euthyphro Problem as it applies to the value of nature.
The recognition view of the value nature articulates that humans recognize the intrinsic value of nature. Where does the basis for this argument originate? Rolston defends the idea that if an organism performs behaviors that strive towards their survival, then they are intrinsically valuable. To defend his argument he uses the examples of plants, trees, and dragonflies. In using these examples, he tries to prove that value is recognized, not projected, by humans. I will take the examples that Rolston uses to back up this argument and show how they appeal to projection.
Rolston argues in favor of the recognition of the value of nature by humans. The opposing side of the projection argument would say that since, according to Rolston, “A plant is a spontaneous, self-maintaining system, sustaining and reproducing itself, executing its program, making a way through the world,” a plant has intrinsic value (Rolston 97). This argument is invalid. The validity of the argument can be determined by investigating the evolution of the human brain. In analyzing the track of evolution, its evident that natural selection has been working diligently to produce humans. Evolution has worked rapidly to create and perfect the human brain, in particular the prefrontal cortex. Scientifically, humans have a more uniquely organized prefrontal cortex (area of the brain located in the frontal lobe) than other animals, which is responsible for high-level performance tasks such as planning, reasoning, thinking, and decision-making. This area of the brain is what allows humans to have the ability to make rational thoughts and therefore be ‘valuers’. The prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain that is...