Environmental Ethics

Look up the term Environmental Ethics at http://plato.stanford.edu/, then answer the following questions: Do you think that a book, a plant, or a building can be said to have a good of its own? Can things be done in its best interest? Does it have interests? Explain your answers and whether you think that this is a good reason to think of that as having intrinsic value.

Do you think that a book, a plant, or a building can be said to have a good of its own? Can things be done in its best interest? Does it have interests? Explain your answers and whether you think that this is a good reason to think of that as having intrinsic value.

Of the three, only a plant would possibly have a good of its own and do thing in its best interest. A plant will bend itself to receive the best sunlight possible in order to grow. This is called phototropism. Its interest would be to collect sunlight for photosynthesis. A Journey North International study said, “a plant growth hormone called auxin helps regulate shoot growth. Under normal light conditions auxins are spread out in the plant. But when sunlight varies, auxin is broken down on the sunnier side of the stem. The higher concentration of auxin on the shady side causes the plant cells on that side to grow more so it bends toward the light.”

As for having intrinsic value, I would say a book or a building has no intrinsic value. Both can be considered tools and thus should be better described as having instrumental value. Without some form of human interaction there are no books or buildings to begin with. In the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, instrumental value is described as “the value of things as means to further some other ends”. Plants have intrinsic value or, as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy puts it, “value of things as ends in themselves regardless of whether they are also useful as means to other ends”. They do not require human interaction and are living entities. They are also part of a bigger ecosystem. Take plants out of the equation and we would lose more than just plants. Plants are also needed by humans for medicine, food, and other things. From a deontological viewpoint, it would then be a moral obligation on our part to ensure plants receive some form of protection. The fact that plants also have instrumental value just adds more of an incentive to keep plants from being harmed.