Intrinsic Value

Rolston's Argument for Nonanthropogenic Instrinsic Value

Human Value:
All humans have the ability to put a value on something whether it be intrinsically or instrumentally. As Wilhelm Windleband says “ Value…is never found in the object itself as a property. It consists in a relation to an appreciating mind…take away will and there is no such thing as value.” So, since all humans have free will, we all have the inherent ability to value.
Taking an interest in an object gives humans a value-ability and what is valued is what humans behold. Value therefore requires subjectivity to coagulate with the world as Rolston points out. There is also no value to anything until consciousness comes on scene. Intrinsic value in the realized sense emerges rationally with the appearance of the subject-generator according to Rolston.
Saying that value is intrinsic is misleading and therefore should be seen as extrinsic because “ex” indicates that it is external. Man is the measure of things according to Protagoras. As Rolston concludes by saying “ Humans are the measures, the valuers of things, even when we measure what they are in themselves.”

Valuable animals:
Animals are valuable and are able to value things. They maintain a supposed valued self-identity as they cope with living in this world. It is intrinsic to animals and it non-anthropogenic. There is no better evidence of non-human values and valuers than spontaneous wildlife because it is born free and on it’s on into the wild.

Valuable organisms:
A valuer is an entity able to defend value. Things don’t matter to plants, but they do matter for them and that’s where we run into the word benefit that is a value based word. Plants take advantage of their environment and that’s plants are a nominative set that distinguishes between what is and what ought to be. An organism usually defends and can therefore be considered to be in a valued state.

Hargrove's Argument for Weak Anthropocentric Instrinsic Value

In his essay, “Weak Anthropocentric Intrinsic Value,” Hargrove makes four arguments:

1) “Objectivist nonanthropocentric intrinsic value theory requires and is complemented by weak anthropocentric intrinsic value theory” (176):
In exploring the Objectivist nonanthropocentric intrinsic value theory (O.N.I.V.) (which holds that value exists within nature that is “independent of and overrides individual human judgement and the relative and evolving cultural ideas” (176) that will remain valid beyond an evolution of cultural values), Hargrove essentially has two problems with this theory, problems that could easily be resolved if a weak anthropocentric view was adopted: the first is that, O.N.I.V., by defining value as an inherent worth, “the value something simply in virtue of the fact that it has a good of its own” (179), is excluding non-living entities from moral protection. Hargrove believes that an anthropocentric intrinsic value theory is necessary to include non-living beings in the moral account. His second problem is in the way that the O.N.I.V. theory regards the value of animals as “independent of human (anthropocentric) intrinsic valuing” (181). He argues that the intrinsically valued, a kind of value that is cherished or loved by a human valuer, presupposes automatic recognition and respect by the human valuer, which, to Hargrove, is “implausible.”

2)”That the most plausible version of subjectivist nonanthropocentric intrinsic value theory is actually a form of weak anthropocentric intrinsic value theory” (176):
Callicott’s subjectivist nonanthropocentric intrinsic value theory (S.N.I.V.) has within it two sub-theories: the first is that “nature comes to have intrinsic value because a s Self-realizing human becomes one with it” (181). The problem with this theory, according to Hargrove, is that “in this way, the intrinsic value of nature is a product of the humanizing of nature” (182), which would seem to suggest that anthropocentrism is at play here. The second sub-theory is that “intrinsic value is conferred on the natural world by humans valuing for itself” (181), meaning that value only exists as a product of human judgement. Hargrove again has problems—three of them: 1) he doubts that humans are the only beings capable of valuing, 2) this theory could not possibly be nonanthropocentric when the source of all value is exclusive to and is dependent on human beings. He adds that, in this way, S.N.I.V. is really weak anthropocentric intrinsic value. And 3) Callicott is “overly subjective” by suggesting that human values are “dependent upon the arbitrary value preferences of individuals” (183). Hargrove, in response, points out the ways in which culture shapes and influences our set of values.

3)”That the weak anthropocentric intrinsic value theory is superior to a weak anthropocentric intrinsic value theory based on pragmatic intrumentalism” (176):
Throughout his essay, Hargrove stresses that “anthropocentric” and "instrumental" are not necessarily synonymous, which is something that the pragmatic instrumentalists want to suggest. Hargrove’s main problem with this is that when anthropocentric values are viewed as exclusively “instrumental,” the pleasure humans feel from experiencing natural beauty becomes a using of nature for our enjoyment, or “a value that can be obtained” (183), which, when compared to other obtainable, instrumental values like natural resources, “appears trivial, ridiculous, and indeed indefensible” (183). When value is viewed in these terms, there is little justification for the preservation of beauty (like art and the national parks).

4) “The most nonanthropocentric value theories are in various ways really anthropocentric” (176):
Assuming that Hargrove considers both the objective and subjective nonanthropocentric intrinsic value theories to fall in this category, he has done this above. He goes even further, in his conclusion, to say that he does not “think that it is possible for humans to avoid being anthropocentric, given that whatever we humans value will be from a human (anthropocentric) point of view” (186).

Hargrove seems to put a great deal of weight on aesthetic beauty as a reason to value/protect the natural world. So the question arises, are those living and non-living beings that are not typically considered to be “beautiful” worth protecting? Hargrove admits that, when working as a cave conservationist, he had trouble convincing people to respect and preserve caves on the grounds of natural beauty. “Bats, worms, insects, and blind fish, though less distasteful than alien monsters, generate little preservationist concern or sympathy” (180). It seems that if Leopold's Land Ethic or the first sub-theory of subjective nonanthropocentric intrinsic value theory (man as a part of nature) could allow itself to be a weak anthropocentric theory, the problems of including all non-beautiful, beautiful, non-living beings and living beings under the umbrella of ethical protection might provide an adequate solution until "convincing nonanthropocentric theory appears that will sweep strong and weak anthropocentrism aside" (181).


1. Hargrove, Eugene. "Weak Anthropocentric Intrinsic Value." Environmental Ethics. Ed. Andrew Light and Holmes Rolston III. Blackwell: Malden, MA, 2003. 175-90.
2. Rolston, Holmes III. "Value in Nature and the Nature of Value." Environmental Ethics. Ed. Andrew Light and Holmes Rolston III. Malden: Blackwell, 2003. 143-153.
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