Bryan G.· Norton, “Environmental Ethics and Weak. Anth ropocentrism,” Environmental Ethics,. Vol. 6, No.2 (Summer ), pp. Anthropocentrism is. In Bryan G. Norton’s article entitled, “Environmental Ethics and Weak Anthropocentrism,” Norton explains his perspective of how an adequate environmental. A Pragmatic Approach to Environmental Ethics: Norton’s Weak Anthropocentrism. Blog Environmentalists have struggled with a pragmatic.

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Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Added to PP index Total downloads 22, of 2, Recent downloads 6 months 42 9, of 2, How can I increase my downloads? The merits of Norton’s position are many, including providing for the criticism of environmentally exploited felt preferences of humans, contraints on human behavior according to ideals such as living in har mony with nature, and, especially, making the important difference be tween felt and considered prefe re nce s.

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An adequate environmental ethic 1 may be anthropocentric and 2 must be nonindividualistic. He argues that the general rejection of an thropocentrism so prevalent in environmental ethics is not required, and. First he introduces the conversing ideas of anthropocentrism and nonanthropocentrism. A Typology of Corporate Environmental Policies. As long as it is felt preferences that determine the value of human actions, then no criticism of the use of natural objects for the satisfaction of felt preferences is possible, since there is no criteria for deciding whether one felt pref erence is better than another.

Norton’s use of “rational” is somewhat arbitrary and confusing environmenta he never makes clear anthropocentrissm specific sense in which he is using the term. For all the merits of his position, Kant would argue that an ac tion such as the deliberate cruelty to animals was wrong not because of the pain environental by the animal per – but because such cruelty harms the humanity in each person including the doer of such cruelty, a hu manity we have a duty to respect in all mankind.

Collins – – Science and Engineering Ethics 14 4: Norton does not deny that it may be possible to develop a nonan thropocentric environmental ethic. In this way, Norton hopes that over-consumptive felt preferences might be overruled by considered preferences.

That is, the current generation has general obligations to use natural resources sustainably and find supplements for those they exhaust, in order to maintain consciousness on earth. How do we determine who this person is? With Kant we have a clear example of how an anthropocentric theory of intrinsic value produces defenses of ac tions towards natural entities, defenses which we find today to be inad equate.


But until such a reduction is shown to oc cur, however, the weak anthropocentric position can provide a frame work for an adequate environmental ethic, an ethic that can extend moral consideration to nonhuman individuals. Environmental ethics is, however, distinctive vis-a-vis standard British and American ethical systems because, in order to be adequate, it must be nonindividualistic.

It should be also noted that Norton’s position allows for moral consideration to be extended to some nonindividualistic entities such as ecosystems and future generations. Hen ryk Skolimowski makes this clear when he says that: We can think only like a person thinks.

Bryan Norton has challenged this view and has proposed a modified or “weak” anthropocentrism as an ad equate basis for an environmental ethic. In this way, one could claim that a natural entity is valued not only for its value in satisfying human needs such as aestheitc satisfaction, scientific curiou sity, recreation needs, or spiritual renewal, but also just for what it is in itself. By maintaining the dichotomy between acting on the basis of felt preferences and acting on the basis of some rationally maintained ideal, it is possible to censure practices generally held to be environmentally destructive.

Likewise, many reports confirm that wolves are necessary to regulate the rodent prey problem in Alaska. Accordingly, the manager must distribute the contents of the trust properly to the current generation, maintaining an obligation to the integrity of the trust. An adequate environmental ethic would give us reasons to avoid careless storage of toxic wastes, overpopulation, wanton extinctions, air and water pollution, etc.

Environmentalists have struggled with a pragmatic approach to solving environmental issues.

Norton’s Weak Anthropocentrism

Furthermore, environmental ethics is often not practical because many people in the field have idealistic approaches to solving such issues. By attributing intrinsic value to natural ob jects, Norton notes, two kinds of environmental ethics usually arise, one based on an anthropocentric theory of intrinsic enviironmental, and another based on a non-anthropocentric theory.

Nevertheless, even if Norton’s position is expanded in this way, some difficulties still remain. Bryan Norton’s Concept of Weak Anthropocentrism: It is not inconceivable that human values may change in time, and that natural objects may not be valued over artificial objects that resemble the original, or that human preferences, felt or considered, may be for extensive artificial envi ro nme nt s.


He concludes that weak anthropocentrism can meet the adequacy criterion. Toward a Practical Ethics for Ecologists and Conservationists. These preferences are often used to determine ”interest” in economic decisions or policy judgments. Norton sees the function of intrinsic or inherent value as basic to standard preservation arguments. It seems clear to many writers that actions such as the extinction of various species are wrong, that some kind of respect or consideration by humans to other species is due to them separate from their utility, and that ecological and environmental insights should be taken into account when the mor ality of certain actions is considered, and they then further argue that the inadequacy of the traditional axiologies in dealing with environmen tal issues results from them being based upon anthropocentric concepts of intrinsic value.

Note that in an anthropocentric theory the reference for morality is still human experience, values, or preferences. Since most environmentally sensitive individuals would agree about the kinds of behavior to be censured or limited regarding the environment, the weak anthropoentric position can provide support for an environ mental ethic that can be of guidance for environmental policy makers.

Then, should a nonanthropocentric environmental ethic be articulated, it can be brought in to augment the weak anthropocentric position. Environmental Value and Anthropocentrism. A weakly anthropocentric value theory, on the other hand, does not focus solely on felt preferences.

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Norton’s Weak Anthropocentrism | existjg

Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here He goes on to say that we can also say of certain sorts of experiences that they are good because they contribute to the good life, or be cause if they are included in one’s life they make it intrin sically better[l 1]. They are held to be in adequate because they cannot provide a consistent, coherent moral de fense of actions taken against nonhuman ent it ies.

While it is true that he would judge the cruelty towards animals to be wrong, the wrongness results from an anthopocentric concept of duty to other humans.