Relational Values: A Unifying Idea in Environmental Ethics and Evaluation?

Environmental Values 30 (6):695-714 (2021)
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There has been a recent spate of publications on how we should evaluate change to ecological systems, some of which have introduced the concept of 'relational values'. Environmental ethicists have, with a few exceptions, not engaged with this debate. We survey the literature on relational values, noting that most advocates of the concept introduce relational values as an additional type of value, in addition to 'instrumental' and 'intrinsic' values. In this paper, we explore the idea that all environmental values are ultimately relational. We explore how such an approach can be articulated, and discuss the implications of this concept for the future of environmental ethics and value studies. One key implication is to suggest a stronger role for empirical ethnography.



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Bryan Norton
University of Cologne