Book Review: The Value of Species

Title: The Value of Species
Author: Edward L McCord
Genre: Philosophy – Environmental Ethics
Pages: 130

Overall Ratings
Expertise: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Emotional Appeal: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Argumentation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2
Readability: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Style: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Focus of the book: Are other species worth protecting? Do they have an intrinsic value that extends beyond the functional value some of them hold for us as humans? If yes, what kind of obligation do we have to protect them?

Structure of the book: McCord combines his love of nature and his history in property law to lay out arguments for and against environmental legislation. He uses the first two chapters of the book to explore if and why animals have intrinsic value, and are thus worth protecting. He then goes on to explain why US property law – which is fast affecting developing countries – does not in fact make impossible the securing of land for the protections of species, provided that preservation of species is a matter of public interest. He pits consumerism against morality, and ultimately argues that our moral obligation to the planet is greater than our obligation to financial comfort.

“What would survival without a robust curiosity and sense of wonder imply for meaningful human existence?”

My experience reading the book: I loooove philosophy, and so I found this book engaging and refreshing. McCord makes a rational case in his early chapters for the importance of species, spending little time attempting to pull reader’s heartstrings. Thus, it provides a refreshing read in a sea of emotional pleas and the religion of conservation. McCord does allow that he will be speaking with passion throughout the book, and said passion is derived from a sense of urgency and profound wonder. On page 24 of his book, he asks readers “What would survival without a robust curiosity and sense of wonder imply for meaningful human existence?” Still, his passion is kept in check by a philosophical tone. As such, his arguments are logical, well-paced, and persuasive.

Who should read this book? It should be noted that McCord does not set out to solve a problem. Rather, he sets out to prove that there is indeed a problem and that humans have an obligation to remedy it. As such, this is not a book for those looking to further their knowledge of legislative options for environmentalism. Rather, this book can introduce or deepen an ethical realization of why our planet and its species matter. At only 130 pages, McCord’s book is to the point, covering a broad spectrum of arguments in a short period of time. He outlines his in-depth understanding without bogging readers down. Still, if you dislike philosophy, you may not find this book as captivating as I did.

Fan of philosophy? I’m currently craving more solid environmental ethics reads. Would love your recommendations! Are there other books – of any genre – pertaining to environmentalism that I should read and review? Let me know in the comments!

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