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Environmental Values

Anthropocentrism: A Misunderstood Problem

Tim Hayward

Environmental Values 6(1997): 49-63. doi: 10.3197/096327197776679185

Anthropocentrism can intelligibly be criticised as an ontological error, but attempts to conceive of it as an ethical error are liable to conceptual and practical confusion. After noting the paradox that the clearest instances of overcoming anthropocentrism involve precisely the sort of objectivating knowledge which many ecological critics see as itself archetypically anthropocentric, the article presents the following arguments: there are some ways in which anthropocentrism is not objectionable; the defects associated with anthropocentrism in ethics are better understood as instances of speciesism and human chauvinism; it is unhelpful to call these defects anthropocentrism because there is an ineliminable element of anthropocentrism in any ethic at all; moreover, because the defects do not typically involve a concern with human interests as such, the rhetoric of anti-anthropocentrism is counterproductive in practice.

KEYWORDS: Anthropocentrism, human chauvinism, speciesism, environmental ethics

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles:

Nonuse Values and the Environment: Economic and Ethical Motivations. Tom Crowards

Beyond Human Racism. Robyn Eckersley

Specifying Speciesism Roger Fjellstrom

The Misbegotten Child of Deep Ecology.Stephen Avery

Anthropocentrism vs. Nonanthropocentrism: Why Should We Care?.Katie McShane

Disagreement and Responses to Climate Change Graham Long

Value Typology in Cost-Benefit Analysis. Seth D. Baum

At the Centre of What? A Critical Note on the Centrism-Terminology in Environmental Ethics. Lars Samuelsson

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