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Environmental Values

Darwin, Meaning and Value

Robin Attfield

Environmental Values 20 (2011): 309-314. doi: 10.3197/096327111X13077055165901


In response to Alan Holland's 'Darwin and the meaning in life' (Environmental Values 18: 503-518) I argue that there can be room in a Darwinian world for talk of value, in the sense of interpersonal reasons to promote, preserve or cherish some of the states of that world, or to be glad about those states. Darwinian theorists can recognise a range of intrinsically valuable states of affairs, from the pleasure or the happiness of creatures to their flourishing, and need not discard axiology in general. The context of the passage criticised by Holland is explained to show that I was attempting to supply a vocabulary (such as 'reasons to be glad') usable by religious sceptics as well as believers, for comparing worlds with parasitism and predation and worlds without them; the shape of such comparisons is further delineated. Reasons for being tentative about trans-world comparisons are also supplied.


Value, reasons to be glad, reasons to preserve, Darwinism, value-language, axiology, biological systems, predation, parasitism

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

Darwin and the Meaning in Life. Alan Holland

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles

Editorial: To Act or Not to Act? Katie McShane

What Do We Do about Bleakness? Alan Holland

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