Epistemology and intrinsic values: Norton and Callicott's critiques of Rolston

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Debates over the existence of intrinsic value have long been central to professional environmental ethics. Holmes Rolston, III's version of intrinsic value is, perhaps, the most well known. Recently, powerful critiques leveled by Bryan G. Norton and J. Baird Callicott have suggested that there is an epistemological problem with Rolston's account. In this paper, I argue first that the debates over intrinsic value are as pertinent now as they have ever been. I then explain the objections that Norton and Callicott have raised against Rolston's position. In the main body of the paper, I attempt to show that Rolston's position can accommodate these objections. In this defense of Rolston's position, I have two goals: first, to show that the notion of non-subjective intrinsic value in nature is coherent, and second, to illuminate the places where further philosophical work on intrinsic value remains to be done.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-428
Number of pages20
JournalEnvironmental Ethics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998


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