From Intrinsic Value to Compassion: A Place-Based Ethic

Document Type

Article - Merrimack Access Only

Publication Title

Environmental Ethics

Publication Date

Fall 2013

Abstract/ Summary

If the value of intrinsic value accounts lies in the establishment of an impetus to accept duties with respect to nature and to make sense of specific feelings of attachment and affection toward nature, then these goals can be met equally well through the virtue of compassion. Compassion is an other-directed emotion, and is thus not anthropocentric when directed toward nature. It requires us to be capable of relating to and identifying suffering in another. However, basing an ethic on compassion requires a hermeneutic shift in how we think about nature and particular places such that we consider more closely how time is related to suffering. Since suffering is inevitable, there are several ways that compassion might be embodied in our actions, all of which share the feature of promoting the wildness of a place.