Is there a need for intrinsic values in conservation biology?


  • Dominic Hyde University of Queensland



Conservation biology has amongst its aims the conservation of the biologically valuable. As a consequence, some underlying theory of value is invoked. Clear challenges to orthodox value theory have been on the table for some time now, with some arguing for recognition of intrinsic values in nature, and some conservation biologists subsequently drawing on such a view. However, this development of value theory has recently been criticised for lacking sufficient clarity and failing to serve the needs of decision-making in conservation biology. These criticisms serve to highlight confusion and difficulties in the development of a coherent and efficacious theory of intrinsic value for application in decision-making. They do not, however, count as sufficient grounds for the rejection of such a theory. Sylvan appears to offer a theory that avoids the criticisms made. The debate here is instructive in clearing away some of the misguided claims frequently encountered in this area and in seeing the value in Sylvan’s “deep green theory”.


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Author Biography

Dominic Hyde, University of Queensland

Honorary Senior Lecturer, Philosophy