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Offlinejono
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Registered: 05/11/02
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The Value of Nature
    #658212 - 06/02/02 01:52 AM (14 years, 7 months ago)

In one of my philosophy subjects at uni, we recently delved into Environmental Ethics. I discovered that the most commonly held view in environmental ethics about the value of nature was the "Anthroprocentric" view, that is, the human-centred view. It postulates that the environment is only valueable in so far as it benefits mankind; that is the environment only has instrumental value. It puts foward that destroying the environment is only morally wrong in so far as the bad effect it will have on humans. (ie destroying a beautiful forest is bad because future generations wont get to see it, or it will cause increase in greenhouse gases etc, etc,). I strongly disagree with this argument, and feel that the environment has intrinsic value, that is value in itself. The only difficulty is that it is much more difficult to argue that nature has intrinsic value. I base my reasoning for thinking nature is good in itself mostly from tripping, and experiencing that 'connection' with nature. (which isnt good reasoning as far as philosophy is concerned!)
What do other people out there think?

Cheers,
Jono.


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Our problem results from acting like cowboys on a limitless frontier when in truth we inhabit a living spaceship with a finely balanced life-support system." David C. Korton


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OfflineComponent
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Re: The Value of Nature [Re: jono]
    #658221 - 06/02/02 02:20 AM (14 years, 7 months ago)

The forests we cut down and use the timber as a resource get replanted mainly because we could use the wood again down the line in manufacturing our products. Not because Mother Nature might approve of our efforts in showing our gratitude for her precious goods. "We can rape the land, air, and sea. No one is gonna hurt us." Anthroprocentrism belongs in a geocentristic solar system.


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InvisibleRevelation

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Re: The Value of Nature [Re: jono]
    #658538 - 06/02/02 07:40 AM (14 years, 7 months ago)

Yeah I agree, I believe that nature has intrinsic value. Think about what the earth was like before we decided that it was there to be conquered and controlled. It was the very epitome of beauty and perfection. The garden of Eden. Think about something as simple as an apple. How great are apples? I mean, we could easily have found ourselves on a barren landscape with nothing to eat but some kind of bitter slime. Yes.
Instead we were given a pleasant and interesting world, with all kinds of amazing and delicious food just ready to "pick from the vine".

Our every need catered for, and we threw it all away. Fuck.


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Anonymous

Re: The Value of Nature [Re: jono]
    #658662 - 06/02/02 09:21 AM (14 years, 7 months ago)

Please give your definition of value. The concept of what has value is subjective. Humans are the ones that assign value to things. When you state "I... feel that the environment has intrinsic value, that is value in itself." you are the one assigning this "intrinsic" value.

Humans cannot be separated from nature, our actions are constrained by it, necessitated by it and most importantly, part of it. Why is it when humans build a damn it is considered "unnatural" but when a beaver builds a damn it is considered "natural?" Each species is acting from it's nature and within nature.


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OfflineDroz
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Re: The Value of Nature [Re: jono]
    #659213 - 06/02/02 04:10 PM (14 years, 7 months ago)

If you didn't know already, we are one of natures most unique creatures. We play our part. In ex. animals produce carbon dioxide which makes all plant life grow. You could say the king of nature on a simple level would be the sun. Without the sun there wouldn't be us. Just a few thoughts of mine.

Anyone have any good books they have read on us and nature? Please let me know. I would like to be more knowledgable. Thx.

Peace,
Droz


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Evolution of Time.


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InvisibleRevelation

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Re: The Value of Nature [Re: Droz]
    #659220 - 06/02/02 04:16 PM (14 years, 7 months ago)

Ishmael. Everyone needs to read this book. Whatever you do, read this book.


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Offlinedeepr
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Registered: 05/24/02
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Re: The Value of Nature [Re: ]
    #659228 - 06/02/02 04:33 PM (14 years, 7 months ago)

if a family of beavers built a dam with the sole purpose to create a marketable product so as they could sell it to beavers far and wide, and receive profit from it so as they could increase their standard of living from say living at work, to a nice 4 storey mansion with underwater access... then this would be called unnatural, i think the line can be drawn at personal gain from the environment when an animal starts abusing it beyond his own need for selfish reasons, with no respect for the degradation of everything around him.

I dont think that humans nature is natural, it is adapted by society to what they think it should be. we are in effect blank slates (although im not a nurture over nature advocate). the two boys that were found in india raised by wolves at around 7 years of age were very much like wolves. They could only communicate through growling noises to the group, they ate raw meat, they couldnt walk anymore they just sat in a cave. Psychologists tried to rehabilitate them to 'ordinary' life... the eldest was past that sensitive period for skill acquisition and died. The youngest however learnt our language, how to walk and some aspects of culture, but died soon after as well. (dietary problems if im right)
how can our actions be natural if they are influenced by people with selfish motives? you might think that the destruction of our world by nuclear war is natural because humans invented the bomb... i think your meaning of natural is too liberal tho



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OfflineDroz
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Re: The Value of Nature [Re: Revelation]
    #659265 - 06/02/02 05:04 PM (14 years, 7 months ago)

Revelation who is it by? Probably a dumb question. Im sure i can find it just by the title.


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Evolution of Time.


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InvisibleRevelation

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Re: The Value of Nature [Re: deepr]
    #659284 - 06/02/02 05:23 PM (14 years, 7 months ago)

Everything is natural. But definitions mean nothing.

What we have trouble comprehending is that there are laws at work. One of these laws states "Thou shalt not taketh away more than Thou puteth in, you bastards" . When we break this law, things start to break down around us. The equilibrium that once existed is broken. For example, when a starving population is given food, that population increases, making the problem worse. Starvation is the earth's defence mechanism against over population. It's the law. We cannot work outside of this law, try though we might. We can only seek to understand it, in the same way as we have come to understand the laws of aerodynamics. At first we fell out of the sky.

The atomic bomb, if anything, is nature mocking us. As only nature can mock nature: "This is what happens when you turn your back on the world". It is nature's way of wiping the slate clean in the only way it can.


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Re: The Value of Nature [Re: Droz]
    #659286 - 06/02/02 05:25 PM (14 years, 7 months ago)

Sorry, it's by Daniel Quinn.


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Offlinedeepr
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Re: The Value of Nature [Re: Revelation]
    #659360 - 06/02/02 06:31 PM (14 years, 7 months ago)

good point revelation bout the bomb


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Anonymous

Re: The Value of Nature [Re: deepr]
    #659513 - 06/02/02 08:47 PM (14 years, 7 months ago)

if a family of beavers built a dam with the sole purpose to create a marketable product so as they could sell it to beavers far and wide, and receive profit from it so as they could increase their standard of living from say living at work, to a nice 4 storey mansion with underwater access... then this would be called unnatural,
What's wrong with making a profit while providing shelter for the fellow members of your species? What's wrong with wanting a better standard of living? Why is this unnatural for humans?

i think the line can be drawn at personal gain from the environment when an animal starts abusing it beyond his own need for selfish reasons, with no respect for the degradation of everything around him.
Every organism derives personal gain from nature. Do you think there is any animal other than man that has any respect for the degradation of things around them? Man is the only animal that shows any awareness of this at all.

I dont think that humans nature is natural, it is adapted by society to what they think it should be. we are in effect blank slates (although im not a nurture over nature advocate).
Man behaves in the way that is natural for him. Is human society somehow manufactured in an alien laboratory? Humans are not born totally "blank slates" as you think. It is true that we have a great ability to learn and adapt (a major part of human nature) but we have many inborn traits and instincts as well. Just because we can use our minds to rationalize (or deny) our innate urges does not mean that they don't exists. A quick example, my wife tells me that she gets a feeling of starting to lactate whenever she hears a baby crying. Another example, the ability to learn a language is inborn.

how can our actions be natural if they are influenced by people with selfish motives?
Every organism has selfish motives in the sense that it works to maintain it's own survival or the survival of it's progeny.

you might think that the destruction of our world by nuclear war is natural because humans invented the bomb...
To people who think that humans can destroy the earth, I say don't be so egotistical, humans are not that powerful. Nature can snuff us out in a minute with a meteor, or take a few years and engineer a microscopic organism that can wipe out civilization or even the human race (ever heard of the black plague). If humans make enough missteps and wipe themselves out, the earth will survive and new life will arise to cover the face of the planet. Anyway the future unfolds, humans (at least in their present form) will at one point disappear but life will go on without us.

Revelation was correct in his observations. We cannot escape nature and we cannot go against it. All assertions of man "conquering nature" are utter nonsense. What man really has done is to learn how to ask nature to accomplish what he wants, nothing more. As Francis Bacon said, "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed." To say that mankind is somehow separate from nature is as silly as saying that man is the center of the universe. If we, as a species, are to survive or to evolve into something else, it will be because we will have learned how to more effectively obey nature.


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OfflineDroz
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Re: The Value of Nature [Re: jono]
    #659523 - 06/02/02 08:55 PM (14 years, 7 months ago)

Good thread and good posts guys. Thinking of nature is one of my enjoyments in life.


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Evolution of Time.


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Offlinejono
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Re: The Value of Nature [Re: ]
    #659655 - 06/02/02 11:29 PM (14 years, 7 months ago)

Evolving Wrote: "Please give your definition of value. The concept of what has value is subjective. Humans are the ones that assign value to things. When you state "I... feel that the environment has intrinsic value, that is value in itself." you are the one assigning this "intrinsic" value. "

When I say it is has value in itself, I mean that it doesnt need anything else, or have to result in anything else, to gain value. For example, happiness is something of 'intrinsic' value. It doesnt need anything added to it, or have to result in anything to be good, its goodness comes from its very nature. What I want to argue is that this value isnt subjective. Im obviously the one attempting to argue that it has value, that is given, but the fact that I am arguing it doesnt necessarily make it subjective. Surely people can argue about objective facts, the fact that a person argues it doesnt make it subjective!! Unless you dont believe that anything is objective, and if that is the case, then we cant argue.

I think the distinction between the way man and animals interact between their enviornment is a contrast of necessities. No non-human creatures interact with their environment, or change their environment in a way that isn't directly necessary for the continuation of their existance. Take a tree for example, it consumes co2, drops leaves, grows, sucks up nutrients, but all these actions are necessary for its own survival. Man carries out actions that go beyond necessity. (in my opinion)

The fact that we are able to carry out actions beyond necessity, has to do with our complex mental nature that makes us different to other organisms in the animal kingdom. (note that I am not arguing that we are separate from nature, we are very much a part of it, I am arguing that we are vastly different to most other 'forms' of nature) Self conciousness and the associated mental states give us abilities that average organisms dont have (which is obvious), and I think the fact that we have those abilities means that we can make claims about being responsible for our actions.

Evolving Wrote: "Man behaves in the way that is natural for him"
With that sort of reasoning you could justify anything!!!! You are basically stating that you dont believe man can conduct an un-natural act, but we need reasons that justify such a claim!!!
I think the fact that man possesses powers that animals dont (especially self-concious) entails within us the ability to conduct unnatural acts. (a natural act, being a necessary act).Animals might be sentient, but with the exception of perhaps dolphins and higher apes, are not self-concious. Humans might have instinctual traits that make us similar to animals, but we possess significant traits that every other organism doesnt.

Evolving Wrote: "Every organism has selfish motives in the sense that it works to maintain it's own survival or the survival of it's progeny."
Of course, but the fact that other organisms cant be aware of the distiinction between selfish actions, and altruistic actions is what is relevant. Surely an animal cant be aware of the selfish nature of its own actions, whereas a human being can.

We have abilities that every other organism doesnt have, we can choose how we wish to use these abilities, and we can be responsible for how we use these abilities.
Consider this analogy. Say one individual has abilities and strengths that give him a large degree of control over many other individuals. (note evoloving Im not saying that he has total control or power, but just that his power is greater than the others) basically in the short term, he can do what he wants to those other individuals, and they cant do anything back. Most would believe that this individual has a duty to be responsible with how he exercises those powers, and has a duty not to inflict unnecessary pain and suffering on those that are subject to his will. I think 'nature' is in a very similar situation.

Cheers,
Jono.



--------------------
Our problem results from acting like cowboys on a limitless frontier when in truth we inhabit a living spaceship with a finely balanced life-support system." David C. Korton


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Offlinedeepr
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Re: The Value of Nature [Re: ]
    #659767 - 06/03/02 01:47 AM (14 years, 7 months ago)

evolving, i mentioned that i am not an advocate for nurture over nature, I was using the blank slate analogy of john locke, as what it is, an analogy. The ability to express ourselves through language through brocas and wernickes area etc. are uniquely human characteristics, but this still means that we have to learn the language...

Every organism derives personal gain from nature. Do you think there is any animal other than man that has any respect for the degradation of things around them? Man is the only animal that shows any awareness of this at all.

man is the only organism that is aware of this, yet is the only organism that destroys beyond what is natural for personal gain... jonos right in saying with the 'all humans behaviour is natural' argument you can explain away everything. This argument is flawed. If humans engineered a computer hybrid that had its own conscience (this is not a far off idea) that started its own race, turned against us and with its faster capability for change, understanding and growth, created a superbomb that blew up this side of the universe in retaliation for our enslavement of computers... would this behaviour still be natural? it was in effect a result of our actions.... i think there is a line that has to be drawn, and it starts at personal gain but ends at infringement on the rights of others and the enviroment that we all live in.


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OfflineDroz
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Re: The Value of Nature [Re: deepr]
    #660171 - 06/03/02 08:43 AM (14 years, 7 months ago)

We are nature. Therefore what we create is nature, and so on.


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Evolution of Time.


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InvisibleRevelation

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Re: The Value of Nature [Re: Droz]
    #660378 - 06/03/02 11:20 AM (14 years, 7 months ago)

Exactly. And furthermore:

Most of the time we make technology to mimic natural events (communication, transport, mental tasks such as mathematics etc). Have you noticed that technology is becoming smaller and smaller as it improves (or becomes more "natural"?). Eventually we will realize that in order to imitate nature as precisely as possile we have to build our technology exactly like nature. I believe this is what we are working towards, perhaps having vehicles etc which are living organisms. When our technology becomes exactly like nature it will be nature.

Technology=nature
Nature=Technology

Just an idea that came to mind as I was reading this. I'll think about it some more.


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OfflineDroz
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Re: The Value of Nature [Re: Revelation]
    #660470 - 06/03/02 12:31 PM (14 years, 7 months ago)

Yeah i read somewhere on the board about bio computers and shit. Sounds very interesting. Nanotechnology man! Maybe i should go to school to advance it. We should all become scientists and let robots and computers run the world around us.


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Evolution of Time.


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Offlinehongomon
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Re: The Value of Nature [Re: Droz]
    #660605 - 06/03/02 01:58 PM (14 years, 7 months ago)

I can see exactly where you're coming from, Jono, though Evolving's point about the inescapable subjectivity is a good one. It's got me stuck.

But I really agree with you that, as the species nature has produced to appreciate herself , we're also accountable for what we do. I mean, we can insist that whatever we do is perfectly natural, but what's the point of insisting on desctructive behavior? If it's in our nature to take and destroy more than our share, I hope it's also in our nature to not do it. Consider them "potentials."

I think our instinct for survival is just a little misinformed. In the natural world the survival instinct isn't ultimately about sparing a particular member of the species, but about assuring the survival of the species as a whole.



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Invisibleraytrace
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Re: The Value of Nature [Re: Revelation]
    #661615 - 06/04/02 12:58 AM (14 years, 7 months ago)

"technology tends to get smaller and smaller, so that one day will disappear" -- John Cage


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