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Anthropocentrism: More than just a misunderstood problem
Leiden Univ, Inst Cultural Anthropol & Dev Sociol, Fac Social & Behav Sci, Leiden, Netherlands.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7617-2288
Univ New South Wales, PANGEA Res Ctr, Biol Earth & Environm Sci, Level 5,Biol Sci Bldg Australia.
Univ Florida, Coll Liberal Arts & Sci, Gainesville, FL .
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013).
2018 (English)In: Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, ISSN 1187-7863, E-ISSN 1573-322X, Vol. 31, no 1, p. 109-127Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Anthropocentrism, in its original connotation in environmental ethics, is the belief that value is human-centred and that all other beings are means to human ends. Environmentally -concerned authors have argued that anthropocentrism is ethically wrong and at the root of ecological crises. Some environmental ethicists argue, however, that critics of anthropocentrism are misguided or even misanthropic. They contend: first that criticism of anthropocentrism can be counterproductive and misleading by failing to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate human interests. Second, that humans differ greatly in their environmental impacts, and consequently, addressing human inequalities should be a precondition for environmental protection. Third, since ecosystems constitute the "life-support system" for humans, anthropocentrism can and should be a powerful motivation for environmental protection. Fourth, human self-love is not only natural but helpful as a starting point for loving others, including nonhumans. Herein we analyze such arguments, agreeing with parts of them while advancing four counter-arguments. First, redefining the term anthropocentrism seems to be an attempt to ignore behavior in which humans focus on themselves at the risk of the planet. Second, if addressing human inequalities is a precondition for environmental protection, biodiversity protection will remain out of the scope of ethical consideration for an indefinite period of time. Third, anthropocentric motivations can only make a positive contribution to the environment in situations where humans are conscious of a direct benefit to themselves. Fourth, 'self-love' alone is an inadequate basis for environmental concern and action. We also explore the question of agency, shared responsibility, and a fair attribution of blame for our environmental predicaments.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 31, no 1, p. 109-127
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Environmental Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-66459DOI: 10.1007/s10806-018-9711-1ISI: 000424023600008OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-66459DiVA, id: diva2:1184838
Available from: 2018-02-22 Created: 2018-02-22 Last updated: 2018-06-07Bibliographically approved

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