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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2019

The Goodness of Means: Instrumental and Relational Values, Causation, and Environmental Policies

Baard, Patrik


Instrumental values are often considered to be inferior to intrinsic values. One reason for this is that instrumental values are extrinsic and rely on two factors: (a) a means-end relationship that is (b) conducive to something of final or intrinsic value. In this paper, I will investigate the conditions under which bearers of instrumental value are given different value or owed different levels of respect. Such conditions include the number of means that are conducive to something of final or intrinsic value as well as the form of causality that is implied. It will be suggested that different numbers and causal relations will imply different degrees of reverence or respect to the bearers of instrumental value. I will also critically investigate recent proposals such as relational values that allegedly go beyond the distinction between instrumental and intrinsic value. Drawing from this critical analysis, a nuanced picture of instrumental value will be provided.


Instrumental value; Species; Intrinsic value; Relational value

Published in

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
2019, volume: 32, number: 1, pages: 183-199

Authors' information

Baard, Patrik
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Swedish Biodiversity Centre

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