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Title (Primary) Opinion: Why protect nature? Rethinking values and the environment
Author Chan, K.M.A.; Balvanera, P.; Benessaiah, K.; Chapman, M.; Díaz, S.; Gómez-Baggethun, E.; Gould, R.; Hannahs, N.; Jax, K.; Klain, S.; Luck, G.W.; Martín-López, B.; Muraca, B.; Norton, B.; Ott, K.; Pascual, U.; Satterfield, T.; Tadaki, M.; Taggart, J.; Turner, N.;
Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America : PNAS
Year 2016
Department NSF;
Volume 113
Issue 6
Language englisch;
POF III (all) T19;
UFZ wide themes RU1;

A cornerstone of environmental policy is the debate over protecting nature for humans’ sake (instrumental values) or for nature’s (intrinsic values) (1). We propose that focusing only on instrumental or intrinsic values may fail to resonate with views on personal and collective well-being, or “what is right,” with regard to nature and the environment. Without complementary attention to other ways that value is expressed and realized by people, such a focus may inadvertently promote worldviews at odds with fair and desirable futures. It is time to engage seriously with a third class of values, one with diverse roots and current expressions: relational values. By doing so, we reframe the discussion about environmental protection, and open the door to new, potentially more productive policy approaches.

Defining Relational Values

Few people make personal choices based only on how things possess inherent worth or satisfy their preferences (intrinsic and instrumental values, respectively). People also consider the appropriateness of how they relate with nature and with others, including the actions and habits conducive to a good life, both meaningful and satisfying. In philosophical terms, these are relational values (preferences, principles, and virtues associated with relationships, both interpersonal and as articulated by policies and social norms). They include “eudaimonic” values, or values associated with a good life (Fig. 1; also see dataset for additional references throughout, available at Relational values are not present in things but derivative of relationships and responsibilities to them (Fig. 2). In this sense, an individual preference or societal choice can be questioned or reframed based on its consistency with core values, such as justice, care, virtue, and reciprocity.

ID 17134
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Chan, K.M.A., Balvanera, P., Benessaiah, K., Chapman, M., Díaz, S., Gómez-Baggethun, E., Gould, R., Hannahs, N., Jax, K., Klain, S., Luck, G.W., Martín-López, B., Muraca, B., Norton, B., Ott, K., Pascual, U., Satterfield, T., Tadaki, M., Taggart, J., Turner, N. (2016):
Opinion: Why protect nature? Rethinking values and the environment
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 113 (6), 1462 - 1465