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Environmental Values

Beyond Human Racism

Robyn Eckersley

Environmental Values 7(1998): 165-182. doi: 10.3197/096327198129341528

In 'Non-Anthropocentrism? A Killing Objection', Tony Lynch and David Wells argue that any attempt to develop a non-anthropocentric morality must invariably slide back to either anthropocentrism (either weak or strong) or a highly repugnant misanthropy in cases of direct conflict between the survival needs of humans and nonhuman species. This reply argues that their attempt to expose the flaws in non-anthropocentrism deflects attention away from the crux of the ecocentric critique, which can best be understood if we replace the confusing terms anthropocentrism/non-anthropocentrism with 'human racism'/ecocentrism (understood as a more inclusive moral perspective which encompasses nonracist humanism). Human racism manifests when a reconciliation of human and nonhuman needs is possible but is nonetheless concealed and/or denied. That is, the best test for discerning prejudice against nonhuman nature is not when individual or social choice are severely circumscribed but rather when such choices are relatively unconstrained. Moreover, their concluding argument that human concern for nonhuman nature should be understood in terms of aesthetic values rather than moral values does not provide reliable grounds for the systematic protection of nonhuman nature.

KEYWORDS: anthropocentrism, human racism, ecocentrism, hierarchy, needs, deep ecology, aesthetic appreciation

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

Anthropocentrism: A Misunderstood Problem. Tim Hayward

Deep Ecology as an Aesthetic Movement. Tony Lynch

Reconciling Anthropocentric and Nonanthropocentric Environmental Ethics. James P. Sterba

On the Reconciliation of Anthropocentric and Nonanthropocentric Environmental Ethics. Brian K. Steverson

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles:

A Constrained-Utility Alternative to Animal Rights Joshua Frank

Specifying Speciesism Roger Fjellstrom

The Misbegotten Child of Deep Ecology.Stephen Avery

Representing Non-Human Interests. Alfonso Donoso

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