The Value of Species


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Edward L. McCord

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We humans value a great variety of plant and animal species for their usefulness to us. But what is the value—if any—of a species that offers no practical use?

In the face of accelerating extinctions across the globe, what ought we to do? Amid this sea of losses, what is our responsibility? How do we assess the value of nonhuman species? In this clear-spoken, passionate book, naturalist and philosopher Edward L. McCord explores urgent questions about the destruction of species and provides a new framework for appreciating and defending every form of life.

The book draws insights from philosophy, ethics, law, and biology to arrive at a new way of thinking about the value of each species on earth. With meticulous reasoning, McCord demonstrates that the inherent value of species to humanity is intellectual: individual species are phenomena of such intellectual moment—so interesting in their own right—that they rise above other values and merit enduring human embrace. The author discusses the threats other species confront and delineates the challenges involved in creating any kind of public instrument to protect species. No other scholar has advocated on behalf of biodiversity with such eloquence and passion, and none provides greater inspiration to defend nonhuman forms of life.

Edward L. McCord is director of programming and special projects, University Honors College, University of Pittsburgh. He also is director of the university's Yellowstone Field Course and the Allen L. Cook Spring Creek Preserve near Laramie, Wyoming. He lives in Pittsburgh.

“This pithy little book fills an important niche in motivating further discourse toward understanding human agency over the environment.”—Oswald Schmitz, Oastler Professor, Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies 

"This fine meditation on the reasons that human society -- all too driven by immediate economic interests -- should respect the wonder and mystery of nature and preserve species into the future makes an important contribution to environmental virtue ethics."— Mark Sagoff, Director, Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, George Mason University

“This is a remarkable book at the intersection of philosophy, ethics, and biology and addresses why we should care from the perspective of human values in an arresting and effective way……wonderfully written and accessible to any educated reader.”
—Thomas E. Lovejoy, University Professor of Environmental Science and Public Policy, George Mason University

"Eloquent, succinct, and compelling, Edward McCord's book shows brilliantly why we should all care about other species, not just for their sake, but for ours."—Paul R. Ehrlich, The Dominant Animal

"Definitely the sort of book I would use at a graduate discussion seminar… A thought-provoking essay that provides new perspectives on that age old question for us humans – what does the rest of the world matter to us."—Sandra Knapp, Oryx

“A valuable resource for all audiences, but an essential read for those interested in environmental sciences.”—Choice 

 “McCord’s main argument for protecting all species on this planet—without regard to their usefulness for us—is that saving species is a question of realizing (in both senses of this word) what it means to be a human being.... [His] well-written book is a highly recommendable contribution to the discourse on the value of species. It provides inspiring ideas, because the author was willing to travel beyond the current mainstream of the conservation discourse.”—Kurt Jax, BioScience

 “McCord’s well-written book is a highly recommendable contribution to the discourse on the value of species.”—Kurt Jax, BioScience

"Brilliant and haunting."—Poughkeepsie Journal

"Ed McCord’s The Value of Species shows us the way to a brighter mutual future."Kate St. John, “Outside My Window”

Selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2012 for Biology within the Science and Technology category.
ISBN: 9780300176575
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
184 pages, 5 x 7 3/4