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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Other entities are judged to be of some kind of extrinsic value insofar as they are instrumental in or con tribute toward the achieving of that human state or experience held to be of intrinsic value.

Norton’s Weak Anthropocentrism | existjg

History of Western Philosophy. He distinguishes between a strong and a weak form of anthropocentrism present in various value theories and, by using the weak form only, he allows for adjudication of conflicts of actions and interests in environ mental issues without recourse to locating intrinsic value in natural ob jects. If it is wrong to destroy X, the wrongness must derive from harm to X or to some other natural object. It is true that weak anthropocentrists must deny that pref erence satisfaction is the only nroton of human value.

A classic example of the traditional anthropocentrically based axiolo gies and the problems that result for nonhuman entities is the Kantian ethic. Environmental Ethics in Applied Envkronmental categorize this paper. Norton argues that both the contemporary utilitarian and deontological positions are essentially individualistic in that “the basic unit of ethical nortoon are interests or claims of individuals. They can be held in light of some evaluating idea of what the world is like or ought to be.

On the other hand, nonanthropocentrism is the belief that human beings are the source of all values, but that they can designate nonhuman objects as the center or focus of fundamental values. But other theories might as well, and what meets the adequacy criterion need not be correct or antrhopocentrism.

In some cases, hunters use this practice to protect the interests of humans, however in most cases, the wolves are killed for sport. Toward a Practical Ethics for Ecologists and Conservationists. The other benefit of his position, Norton wfak, is that it is non – individualistic, unlike most contemporary ethical systems.


If this meaning is ac cepted, then it is possible for the weak anthropocentrist to attribute intrinsic value to nature as well as instrumental value. Environmental ethics involves decisions on two levels, one kind of which differs from usual decisions affecting individual fairness while the other does not.

It is, thus, with a ans of arguments from an an thropocentric and a nonanthropocentric perspective that a comprehen sive program of support for environmental preservation can emerge.

In this way, anthropocentrism is defined by reference to the position taken on the loci of value. Norton admits envirronmental adequacy falls short of correctness or truth.

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

However, given what Norton considers the dubious ontological status of such a value theory, and the pressing need for guidance re garding environmental problems, he holds that his position is one that can now be utilized to make environmentally sound snvironmental decisions. Added to PP index Total downloads 22, of 2, Recent downloads 6 months 42 9, of 2, How can I increase my downloads?

Norton can argue that many of anthroocentrism attempts to locate value in the world independent of human interests are really subtle forms of his weak anthropocentric position. Why Should We Care? In critiquing Norton’s proposal I will first present a brief gen eral discussion of axiologies based on the traditional anthropocentric theories of intrinsic value, noting briefly some problems for this theory of value; second, I will develop Norton’s own concept of weak anthro pocentrism as a solution to the problems in the previous theories; and finally, I will critique Norton’s position, showing its strengths and lim its and offer a modification of Norton’s concept that significantly im proves it.

The weakly anthropocentric view makes possible the kind of environmental ethics environmenta earlier by Callicott, that is, an ethic that provides reasons to praise or censure certain human actions toward the environ ment. horton

nofton He argues that the general rejection of an thropocentrism so prevalent in environmental ethics is not required, and. 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]. Log In Sign Up. Weak anthropocentrism also recognizes that felt preferences, the preferences based want and desire, can be either rational or cannot be judges with a rational world view.


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. Notice the norotn anthropocentrism here as he classifies things as con tributory to an intrinsically valued experience, the good life. This kind of anthropocentric position is reflected in the subjectivist theory of aesthetic value. Remember me on this computer.

Humans encounter and satisfy their felt preferences on a daily basis. This site uses cookies.

Norton’s Weak Anthropocentrism

On the grounds that weak anthropocentrism can provide 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. While it is true that he would judge sthics cruelty towards animals to be wrong, the wrongness results from an anthopocentric concept of duty to other humans.

One ought not to harm other humans unjustifiably 2. 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 value, and another based on a non-anthropocentric theory. Likewise natural objects were judged by Kant to have environnental an extrinsic, instrumental value.

Callous treatment of natu ral objects such as the act of vandalizing a place of natural beauty was wrong for Kant because it not only ruined it as a means for the human experience of beauty but also such actions engendered a more callous treatment of other humans.