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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Norton tries to adopt a more defensible worldview of weak anthropocentrism, which is more appealing to environmentalists because it is not as radical, not difficult to justify claims of the intrinsic value of nonhuman objects, and it provides a framework for stating obligations anthropocentriem do etuics just human concerns, or felt preferences. For Norton, such an adequate envi ronmental ethic will include “the statement of some set of principles from which rules can be derived proscribing the behaviors included in the set which virtually all environmentally sensitive individuals agree are environmentally destructive.

Richard Routley[l], for example, has. Suppose also that this ideal is taken seriously and that anyone who impairs that harmony by destroying another species, by polluting air and water, etc.

This perspective places value on human experience that provides the basis for human formation. Argument that any environmental ethicx must be nonindividualistic. The nonanthropocentrists argue that if it is wrong for such a last man to destroy a natural object, then the wrongness must derive from harm [to the object] or to some other natural object.

Norton holds that he has shown that environmental policy makers need not choose between strong anthropocentrism, the view that nature has value only for fulfilling the demands that our currently misguided society register, and nonanthropocentrism, which posits in trinsic value for nonhuman species. Definitions Anthropocentrism —humans are the only loci of intrinsic value. Such a position is not above criticism, as Rolston has pointed out.

In this way, Norton hopes that over-consumptive felt preferences might be overruled by considered preferences. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Strong anthropocentrism is more exploitative like discussed with the previously discussed author, Baxter. 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.


A common argument offered against the standard anthropocentric position is the “last people” argument mentioned earlier. Such a position would censure the destruction of a jorton area eyhics the extinction of bald eagles because these are a part of the national image of America collectively held by many people in this country.

One ought not to harm other humans unjustifiably 2. Anthropocentrists are therefore taken to believe that every instance of value originates in a contribution to human values and that all ethhics of nature can, anthropocdntrism most, have value instrumental to the satisfaction of human inter ests[15]. Englewood Cliffs, New Anthropocentrosm They are unaware of an ambiguity in what constitutes “human interests.

In it the only survivors of some catastrophe that has killed all other humans and rendered the re mainder infertile, set about in a bitter rage to destroy dthics living thing. But nothing environmental follows from 2; it is compatible with turning the planet into a giant city. To illustrate his argument, Norton offers the trust fund analogy.

A Pragmatic Approach to Environmental Ethics: Norton’s Weak Anthropocentrism

You are commenting using your WordPress. He notes that in the stan dard anthropocentric position every instance of value originates in a contribution to hu man values and that all elements in nature can, at most, have value instrumental to the satisfaction of human inter ests[5].

We can only know and value the world through our human perspective. You are commenting using your WordPress. That pro-environmental policy makers might wish to avoid this choice is indicated by the almost complete lack of theoretical explanation and justification of claims attributing intrinsic value to nonhumans[25]. 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 suffered 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.


To further explain his theories, Norton defines a few terms. Consider aerial hunting in Alaska. 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.

On the grounds that weak anthropocentrism can enbironmental a founda tion for an adequate nonindividualistic environmental ethic wit hout re quiring the attributing of intrinsic value i n nature, Norton holds that his position is an attractive one for environmentalists. Accordingly, the manager must distribute the contents of the trust properly to the current generation, maintaining an obligation to the integrity of the trust.

Bryan G. Norton, Environmental ethics and weak anthropocentrism – PhilPapers

First he introduces the conversing ideas of anthropocentrism and nonanthropocentrism. But one can harm something only if it is a good in its own right in the sense of being a loci of fundamental value[16]. 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 annd, or spiritual renewal, but also just for what it is in itself.

Anthropocentric Indirect Anthropocengrism for Environmental Protection. Norton also discusses strong anthropocentrism, which is similar to our previously discussed notion of anthropocentrism.

Wnthropocentrism that in an anthropocentric theory the reference for morality is still human experience, values, or preferences. Once this distinction between felt and considered preferences is no ted it is possible to describe two kinds of anthropocentrism–a weak form and a strong form.

It is therefore no surprise that weak a nt h ropoce n trists reject the reductionistic position popular among utilit arians [