Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 101–113 | Cite as

Ecosystem Services and the Value of Places

  • Simon P. James


In the US Environmental Protection Agency, the World Wide Fund for Nature and many other environmental organisations, it is standard practice to evaluate particular woods, wetlands and other such places on the basis of the ‘ecosystem services’ they are thought to provide. I argue that this practice cannot account for one important way in which places are of value to human beings. When they play integral roles in our lives, particular places have a kind of value which cannot be adequately conceived in terms of service provision. Since it is in this respect limited, the ecosystem services framework can, I suggest, be criticised on grounds of justice.


Duty Ecosystem services Environmental ethics Place Value Justice 



I owe a special thanks to Andy Hamilton and two anonymous reviewers for the detailed comments they provided on drafts of this paper. The ideas and arguments presented in it were first aired at the 2013 meeting of the International Society for Environmental Ethics, and I am grateful for the helpful feedback I received from audience members on that occasion. Finally, I would like to thank the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council for awarding me the 6-month fellowship which, amongst other things, enabled me to write this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyDurham UniversityDurhamUK

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