The moral significance of prosstecting environmental and cultural objects

Brock Bastian*, Charlie R. Crimston, Christoph Klebl, Paul A.M. van Lange

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


A powerful avenue through which to promote the preservation of the natural and cultural environment is to afford cultural and environmental objects moral significance. In this research, we examine a range of factors that may give rise to moral concern regarding the protection of culturel and environmental objects as ends in themselves. In this way, we also extend theorizing and evidence beyond a focus on sentience as a focal determinant of moral significance Across five studies we show that non-sentient objects can sometimes be viewed as possessing intrinsically valuable properties that afford them moral standing (independent of their extrinsic/means-end value or any perception of their capacity to think and feel). People judge it morally wrong to harm things that are beautiful, sacred, rare, or old, and this cannot be explained merely by their usefulness or economic value. Our findings provide new insight into ways to elevate the protection of natural and cultural objects to an issue of moral significance, and suggest avenues through which to motivate the preservation of a natural and cultural environments.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0280393
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2 February
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes


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