MUSTS Colloquium: Stijn Neuteleers (Open Universiteit/Maastricht University) ‘Plural valuation of nature’

Picture Stijn Neuteleers

Wednesday May 31st, 15:30-17:00

This event will take place on-campus

If you would like to attend as non-MUSTS member, please register by sending an email to: j{dot}bruyninckx{at}maastrichtuniversity{dot}nl


Plural valuation of nature:

understanding, relevance and use of ‘relational values’


Stijn Neuteleers

(Open Universiteit Heerlen/Maastricht University)



In its most recent global assessment report, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) explicitly deals with the so-called plural valuation of nature (‘The methodological assessment report on the diverse values and valuation of nature’). A central element is the threefold distinction between intrinsic, instrumental and relational values of nature. The last few years, especially since 2018, this distinction has been increasingly used in environmental (social) science. The addition of ‘relational values’ to the more common distinction of intrinsic/instrumental value is seen as a necessary step to grasp the complexity of people valuing nature, in order to increase support for nature conservation and to reduce nature-related conflicts. There is, however, still much confusion about the content of such values and in particular about the concept of relational values. These concepts originate in environmental philosophy but the philosophical debate has not taken away the confusion. This paper proposes an interpretation of this threefold distinction, thereby allowing to understand the fundamental differences and to provide applicable distinctions for applied science and policy. For this goal, the paper looks at a fundamental debate in ethics, namely about a third category of reasons – besides reasons from morality and self-interest – labelled as reasons of love, care or meaningfulness.