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Are there any cross-over points between the biocentric and anthropocentric positions?

Are there any cross-over points between the biocentric and anthropocentric positions?

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Published by Ash Hibbert
The environmental ethic that I propose combines the ethos of the anthropocentric view with the hoped practical outcome of the biocentric view.
The environmental ethic that I propose combines the ethos of the anthropocentric view with the hoped practical outcome of the biocentric view.

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Published by: Ash Hibbert on Nov 25, 2012
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12/22/2013

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Are there any cross-over points between the biocentric and anthropocentric positions?Discuss with reference to formulating anenvironmental ethic.
Ashley Hibbert - August 2000“When asking for help, appeal to people’s self interest, never to their mercy or gratitude.” (Greene and Elffers 1998)The environmental ethic that I propose combines the ethos of the anthropocentric viewwith the hoped practical outcome of the biocentric view. What I propose relies on a seriesof premises, outlined here.We are not unique in our desire to consume our resources, and that desire is notlimited by sustainability issues.Human reasoning is over-rated. We are emotionally-driven creatures. And other  primates, mammals in particular, have much the same - if not more - capacity for intelligence.We are all motivated by hedonism - referred to in the following essay as Egoism,or pro-hedonism. However, in embracing, or surrendering, or admitting to such a selfishvalue system is not necessarily a precursor to the death of all that we hold valuable. It is infact the key to the salvation of those things we value. It is not our cross but our salvation.This implies that we
can
project our own values, broadly speaking, on the rest of the animal kingdom. Not because they are like us but that we are like them.Any environmental ethic - any ethic at all in fact - is simply an institutionalising of  practices, and a rationalisation for what we
want 
to do. Environmental ethics is then just ameans of making ourselves feel better.Environment is merely the physical context within the earth. It is not inherentlyvaluable. What we construct
then
becomes part of the environment. The distinctions
 
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 between natural and artificial are arbitrary, and rely on a distinction between human andanimals, which there is none, humans
being 
animals.The only dualism of any similar weighting is native and exotic: yet all organismsspread, and migrate, and even life that we consider Terran may in fact be Martian -transported my meteorites.Therefore, the value inferences we attach to such terms as natural/artificial need to be adapted in terms of how they relate to our own lives. We need to adjust our environmental paradigms in order to fit with all the above premises, with dualisms suchas sustainable, and non-sustainable.I shall now work to refute the arguments of the biocentric view point, starting with Naessand their presentation of the Shallow and deep ecological movement.The Shallow Ecology movement is Imminent - which is to say, non-metaphysical- contrast to the deep movement, both could be said to be egoistic. Imminent theorywould say that it’s unavoidable to be selfish. However, pro-hedonism is expressedunimaginatively in the Shallow Ecological view. It is expressed colourfully and poetically in the Deep Ecological movement, yet is looses its sense of its origins and thus becomes a categorical imperative.Pro-Hedonism doesn’t demand people to adopt is own values. It rests assured that people cannot do otherwise, only less efficiently then they could. Pro-Hedonism says‘We do not ask that you listen to us merely that you listen to your own self interest.’The benefit of this non-peachiness is that it does not become a pre-requisite to do ‘good’(in this case, help out our own cause, by improving their environment - benefiting us by benefiting themselves).A parallel would be the Christian-missionary phenomena: by my rational,Christians would not be worried about converting perfectly happy people to their ownreligious beliefs, since it’s inconsequential whether a tribe worships ‘God’ by any other name. Different paths, same destination, no complaints.
 
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An additional bonus of pro-egoism is we understand our own motives better. Andwhile attitudes don’t matter in the present, they are key aspect of latter dayconsequentialism. That Is, if our reason to donate to charity is for warm fuzzies, wewould have no fuss then that the person remained in poverty so that we could keep givingthem charity. We become reliant on their suffering. We re-enforce our sense of supremacy. Parallels exist in nurses who keep their patients sick, and parents who keepchildren emotionally reliant on them. It’s the Ogre-myth syndrome.There’s a mystified motive, or greater good, behind the Deep Environmentalmovement. ‘Self realisation’ (Naess 97) gives the impression that entire ethos is then onlyas long-living as that attitude. So, not only is it difficult to convert other cultures, butwithin our own, we are a dynamic society, and values are like fashions - while hedonismwill always be with us. We then risk making the environment like a puppy that is nolonger fashionable to keep - that is, when self realisation dies, the justification for notkeeping slaves dies. New ideologies - or new lies?Think Globally - act locally: this is what the pro-hedonistic approach favours, holdingthat if everyone looks after their own region, for their own immediate interests, thenevery base is covered.If a country starts dumping waste in a river that leads into another country, the nyou have tit-for-tat retribution. I wouldn’t dare to call that justice. Yet it would work. Itwould be a deterrent. Dumping waste could then be considered akin to an act of war.In Taylor, the biocentric view suffers from the same faults as it accuses theanthropocentric view of: using human terminology for non-human things. ‘Communityof life’ (Taylor 100) demonstrates this - Community is s title given to a constructobserved by people,
within
people-groups. It could be expanded to embrace non-humancommunities yet it would still carry with it the value and weighting’s of human-community, and would consequently impress that we could have a kind of ‘League of Nations’ amongst the animal ‘Kingdom’.

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