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Ecocentrism and Persons

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Ecocentrism has to establish an intrinsic connection between its basic value postulate of the non-instrumental value of the nonhuman world and a conception of human flourishing, on pain of failure to motivate acceptance of its social and political prescriptions. This paper explores some ideas recently canvassed by ecocentrists such as Robyn Eckersley, designed to establish this connection - transpersonal ecology, autopoietic value theory and ecofeminism - and finds them open to objection. An alternative approach is developed which concentrates on the connection between non-human nature and personhood, via the phenomenon of culture. Persons are conceived of as essentially culture-creators, and the fact of their embodiment in ecosystems is argued to be essential to their activities as culture creators. The variety and integrity of such systems thus turns out to be essential for the flourishing of what is essential to personhood. This means that ecocentrism has to be abandoned in its pure form, and replaced with person-centrism, but this conclusion is argued for on the basis of the extension of the concept of the self - a strategy often endorsed by ecocentrists themselves.
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Keywords: ecocentrism; environmental ethics; intrinsic value theory; persons

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1996-08-01

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  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2016) of 1.279.
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