Recognition of intrinsic values of sentient beings explains the sense of moral duty towards global nature conservation

PLoS ONE 10 (17):NA (2022)
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Abstract

Whether nature is valuable on its own (intrinsic values) or because of the benefits it provides to humans (instrumental values) has been a long-standing debate. The concept of relational values has been proposed as a solution to this supposed dichotomy, but the empirical validation of its intuitiveness remains limited. We experimentally assessed whether intrinsic/relational values of sentient beings/non-sentient beings/ecosystems better explain people’s sense of moral duty towards global nature conservation for the future. Participants from a representative sample of the population of Singapore (n = 1508) were randomly allocated to two “the last human” scenarios. We found that the best predictor of such a sense of moral duty for future nature conservation is the recognition of the intrinsic values of sentient beings. Our results suggest that the concern for animal welfare may enhance rather than compete with the sense of moral duty towards nature conservation.

Author Profiles

Neil Sinhababu
National University of Singapore

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