The Question of Moral Standing or Intrinsic Value and the Anthropocentric Answer

Four Main Positions (on moral standing) in Environmental Ethics

1. Anthropocentrism: All and only humans have moral standing (including mass murderers, permanently unconscious humans, and human fetuses?) (The received view that environmental ethics challenges.) (William Baxter)

2. Sentio-centrism: All and only sentient beings have moral standing (mammals, perhaps all vertebrates and maybe some invertebrates; e.g., humans, cows, woodpeckers). (Animal welfare ethics, animal liberation, and animal rights: Peter Singer & Tom Regan)

3. Bio-centric Individualism: All and only living beings have moral standing (humans, bears, butterflies, oysters, trees, bacteria). (Paul Taylor & Albert Schweitzer)

4. Eco-centric Holism: Natural non-individuals have moral standing or intrinsic value and are deserving of respect; Species per se (spotted owls), ecosystems (Yellowstone), natural processes (fire, glaciation, speciation), and/or Earth itself (Aldo Leopold, J. Baird Callicott, and Holmes Rolston)

Anthropocentrism [Distinction between Anthropocentrism and Anthropomorphism (=attributing human characteristics to nonhumans)]

Strengths of (and arguments for) Anthropocentrism

More Problems for Anthropocentrism