Anthropocentric - ecocentric controversy: finding a common ground
Musee, Fredrick Munini
MetadataShow full item record
This study is an attempt to resolve anthropocentric – ecocentric controversy over whether a new, nonanthropocentric, ethic as opposed to the dominant anthropocentric one is necessary. Ultimately, anthropocentrists and ecocentrists differ on whether intrinsic value, a prerequisite for moral concern, can be extended to nonhuman beings. Opposed to the quest for new ethic, anthropocentrists limit intrinsic value to human beings. They hold to preferential treatment of man in the event of competing claims between human and nonhuman beings’ needs. On their part, ecocentrists seek to extend intrinsic value to nonhuman beings thereby supporting nonanthropocentrism. They hold to the principle of biotic egalitarianism. The conflict is understood as dialectical conflict with anthropocentrism and egocentrism as thesis and antithesis respectively moving towards an objective common moral ground (synthesis). The resolution to the controversy presupposes a critical analysis of both the notion of intrinsic value and the metaphysical assumption of both anthropocentric and ecocentric moral theories. Upon analysis, it is discovered that neither the concept of intrinsic value nor the metaphysical assumptions of either anthropocentric or ecocentric moral theory fully meets the objective criteria for acceptability of philosophical theories. The concept of intrinsic value is negatively and subjective defined and identified respectively. As such, it does not provide objective criteria for determining the intrinsically valuable entities. The inadequacy of the metaphysical assumptions of anthropocentric and ecocentric moral theory implies indefensibility of either preferential treatment of man or biotic egalitarianism respectively. Upon further analysis however, both theories are found to share a lot in common. It is demonstrated that nature, man included, has both intrinsic value and instrumental value. Between the two values however, instrumental value is most objective and practical. It is modified in a way that it motivates wider preservation of environment. Lastly, a pragmaecocentric moral theory is suggested as an anthropocentric – ecocentric synthesis is proposed. Adherence to environmental justice is emphasized as way to resolve the conflicts between human and nonhuman needs.