I wish to purchase a jar of red palm oil because I have read about the nutrients that it contains. However, I have also read about the incredible amount of deforestation that occurs because of palm oil farming, and that it is endangering the orangutans in Malayasia.
I consider myself to be an Objectivist on most issues, but I am finding it hard to justify purchasing something that seems to be so destructive, since other healthy oils (olive oil) are produced with a seemingly smaller impact on its environment.
So what would you guys do? I feel as if Objectivism would disagree with my position, but I cannot think of why.
The way to approach this from an Objectivist point of view is to ask: What are your values?
Clearly the palm oil is a value to you here. However, you also seem to be weighing the value of:
The key question to ask is: Why are these things a value to you? No part of nature is an intrinsic value. Nothing is a value in and of itself, apart from its relation to man and human life.
Why do you want there to be more forest? Why does it matter if there is a little less? Especially since it's not your forest, but belongs to other people, who have decided that they want to use it for palm oil?
Why does it matter to you if there are more or less orangutans—or none at all?
What exactly is "the environment", and what does it mean to "damage" it? That may sound bad, what what does it really mean?
The most important thing is to evaluate all these as selfish values in the context of your life, not as intrinsically good. If you do so you'll probably find that there's no reason not to buy whatever kind of oil you want.
answered Nov 07 '10 at 01:40