Natural ecosystems, heritage sites, artworks, religious relics, monuments, family heirlooms, and certain animals (such as pets) are all highly valued. Yet in what ways does it make sense to value them? It is relatively uncontroversial that some things have intrinsic value—or have value even “in absolute isolation,” to borrow the words of G. E. Moore—while other things have mere instrumental value. Yet, arguably, the foregoing entities are valued neither largely for their intrinsic properties, nor merely for the sake of other things. Rather, they have other kinds of value, some of which may fall under the “intrinsic” or “instrumental” headings, but many of which do not: they have aesthetic value, historical value, and final value; they are valued as symbols, as constituents of some larger whole, or as having what C. I. Lewis calls “inherent” value. Throughout my work, I explore these different kinds of value, particularly in how they relate to each other, and in how they manifest in the foregoing entities.
In current work, I explore the idea that some objects, such as heirlooms and natural entities, can have “extrinsic final value,” or be valuable for their own sakes without having value intrinsically. In a related project, I explore the ways aesthetic and historical values differ from each other, with a focus on why this difference is important for justifying environmental preservation.