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Beyond Human Racism

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In 'Non-Anthropocentrism? A Killing Objection', Tony Lynch and David Wells argue that any attempt to develop a non-anthropocentric morality must invariably slide back to either anthropocentrism (either weak or strong) or a highly repugnant misanthropy in cases of direct conflict between the survival needs of humans and nonhuman species. This reply argues that their attempt to expose the flaws in non-anthropocentrism deflects attention away from the crux of the ecocentric critique, which can best be understood if we replace the confusing terms anthropocentrism/non-anthropocentrism with 'human racism'/ecocentrism (understood as a more inclusive moral perspective which encompasses nonracist humanism). Human racism manifests when a reconciliation of human and nonhuman needs is possible but is nonetheless concealed and/or denied. That is, the best test for discerning prejudice against nonhuman nature is not when individual or social choice are severely circumscribed but rather when such choices are relatively unconstrained. Moreover, their concluding argument that human concern for nonhuman nature should be understood in terms of aesthetic values rather than moral values does not provide reliable grounds for the systematic protection of nonhuman nature.
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Keywords: anthropocentrism; deep ecology; ecocentrism; hierarchy of needs; human racism

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1998-05-01

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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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