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Anthropocentrism: Humanity as Peril and Promise


Aral Sea

By NASA, derivative work by Zafiroblue05 at en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Exclusive moral concern for human beings is often thought to be the ideological source of many contemporary environmental problems. So the development of a non-anthropocentric theory of intrinsic moral value, according to which at least some parts of the non-human world are morally considerable for their own sake, is often thought to be a defining characteristic of a satisfying environmental ethic. This chapter unpacks three distinct forms of anthropocentrism, outlines three versions of ethical nonanthropocentrism, and sketches some of the debate between anthropocentrists and nonanthropocentrists before concluding that a virtue-theoretic approach to human natural goodness exemplifies one form of anthropocentrism that may continue to play a vital role in developing an environmental ethic suitable to the Anthropocene.

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