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Anthropocentrism and Ecocentrism

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  • Category: Values

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The Anthropocentrism view is the belief that humans alone have intrinsic worth or value. Simply put it means that if something promotes the wellness or interests of humankind then it is a good thing, if not than it is a bad or neutral thing. An example would be the animals in nature, which are considered good, because they provide us with entertainment, knowledge, medicines, clothing and many other things that are in the better interests of humans. However, while it may provide us with these items, it is still believed to have no actual value in itself. Only what it provides us with is actually considered to have value because it is what the human desires and therefore promotes our wellness or interests. On the other hand, let’s look at a disease that affects humans and another one that affects only bears. If an epidemic was discovered that affected humans we would immediately begin studying the disease and begin working towards a cure for it. Since it is affecting humans in a negative way it is a bad thing.

However, if an epidemic that affected bears alone were to be discovered we wouldn’t be as quick to take evasive action. We would work on it for a few reasons such as we wouldn’t have bears to hunt for fur or meat, or we would be worried that it may evolve into a strain which can be contracted by humans. So, since it a neutral thing we would help to prevent it but we would be less quick to jump to it’s aide. The anthropocentrism’s view on deforestation would be to use the cost benefit analysis, which is to choose the alternative that has the greater net balance of benefits over the harms or costs. If tearing down a forest would cause greater harm than it would good, or would cost more than it is worth, than the decision would be made not to do it. However, while this method may be used it still does mean they are against it or for it. What it does mean is that they as long as it produces decent results than they would be for it.

The Ecocentrism view is the belief that not just humans have intrinsic value, but other life forms as well. While there are different variations inside this belief, such as the debate of life forms individually have value or the entire ecosystems in a whole, the difference from anthropocentrism is that not only humans are believed to have intrinsic value. Using the same example as above, which is the animals providing us with entertainment, food and other things, we would see that because the animals provide us with this they are invaluable themselves instead of just what they produce for us. While with the anthropocentrism view we would only value the products of the animals with the Ecocentrism view we would value the animals themselves for providing us with these services. The Ecocentrism view towards deforestation is that the trees and the forest ecosystem should be realized to have intrinsic value. So, while, once again, they are not against it completely since it is required, but they are more likely to stand against it since they would appreciate the value of the forest and it’s ecosystems.

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