What is good about "nature": locating value in the nonhuman world

There is a long list of things people value about the natural world: diversity, complexity, integrity, naturalness, wildness, native species, and of the sentient and even non-sentient individuals that make up an ecosystem. Often, these values conflict. How are we to proceed? This talk will suggest that the set of commonly held values is inflated, that some are false values and that others are proxies for more fundamental values. Some values have been “scienceized,” given a sense of objective reality by being commonly used in environmental science and environmental policy. Nevertheless, even when the set of values has been honed to its core, we are left with multiple values that cannot be measured using a single metric. The talk will conclude by exploring how to move forward using a pluralist approach.

There will be a drinks reception and a book signing after the talk and everyone is welcome.


Emma Marris writes about the environment and other topics for National Geographic, Wired, the New York Times and the Atlantic, among others. Her book on ethical relationships between humans and animals, Wild Souls, first appeared in July 2021.