The Ethics of Respect for Nature
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Paul Taylor envisioned the possibility of a life centered system through the workings of two concepts. The first concept being the good, or well-being, of a living thing. This concept entails doing what is necessary for the welfare of nature. It does not necessarily mean that you are doing what makes nature “feel” good but more of that you are doing what is best for it, ensuring it will still be around tomorrow. An example of this would be to capture several endangered animals in order to breed them in a controlled environment. While the animals that are captured may be miserable while being held in captivity, it will ensure the species fate and also aide in keeping control and stability in Mother Nature for many years to come. Something else that could be done is to put aside plots of land as protected or restricted areas, much like today’s national parks, which would protect the trees and other wildlife that are within its boundaries.
The second concept is the idea of an entity possessing inherent worth. This simply means that all living things are recognized as a part of the world’s community and therefore respecting it no matter how great or small they, or their part in nature, are thought to be. An example of this would be to realize that a bird, no matter how small or large, aides in keeping the bug or rodent population under control, preventing massive swarms or the spread of a potentially deadly disease. With this we would realize all animals or aspects of nature are looked at as an important and necessary part of the over all balance required to maintain the world we have come to know today.
The idea of a biosphere is quite possibly the most ideal environment to test out the principles that Taylor brings to light. If one were to study a biosphere they would see that in order for the process to work out as planned, they would have to treat the environment within the biosphere with the utmost of care. If the occupants of the biosphere were to treat the inside environment the same way the mass majority treat the outside environment then the biosphere would fail for sure. With this being said, if the occupants were to rely on and adhere to the principles being pointed out by Taylor, then the problem would be fixed and the biosphere would inadvertently be a success. If the occupants were to adhere, they would in fact be protecting nature within the biosphere. By following these principles, you are protecting nature in almost every aspect possible and therefore protecting yourself and your future.
The anthropocentric view states that humans are the center of the universe. In my opinion, there is nothing farther from the truth when you say we are the center, or most important thing, of the universe. If you actually look at us we are nothing more than a disease, not much different than any other ordinary one. Every day land is destroyed and animals lose their homes so that we, the human race, can simply live in comfort. Every day we are multiplying, and every year the birth rate is increasing as we grow in numbers. Is this not the same thing that the common cold or any other type of disease does? You can even compare our attempts at space exploration to a disease in the beginning stages of going airborne and trying to spread itself to another host, or planet in this instance.
The anthropocentric view, when widely supported, can cause problems with the principles that Taylor has brought to our attention. While Taylor’s principles don’t state that nature is the center of the universe, instead of the human race, it does point out the immense importance in all of it. It also points out the importance in taking care of it and respecting it, instead of ignoring and neglecting it. If one believes that they are the center of the universe, they would also believe they are more important than anything else in it. If you really look at the situation you would see that humans, the supposed “center of the universe” would not be able to exist without the aura of a thriving natural environment all around. Without tress around to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen we would be unable to breathe. Without animals for meat we would eventually be deprived of a balanced diet and would not be able to fight off disease as effectively. So while nature and the environment may not take our place as the “center” of the universe, it sure is closer than we are. Without nature providing us with what we need, just like it does for every other animal species on this planet, we would just be another number on the long list of extinctions.