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Environmental Ethics

Volume 15, Issue 1, Spring 1993

Eric Katz, Lauren Oechsli
Pages 49-59

Moving beyond Anthropocentrism
Environmental Ethics, Development, and the Amazon

We argue for the rejection of an anthropocentric and instrumental system of normative ethics. Moral arguments for the preservation of the environment cannot be based on the promotion of human interests or goods. The failure of anthropocentric arguments is exemplified by the dilemma of Third World development policy, e.g., the controversy over the preservation of the Amazon rain forest. Considerations of both utility and justice preclude a solution to the problems of Third World development from the restrictive framework of anthropocentric interests. A moral theory in which nature is considered to be morally considerable in itself can justify environmental policies of preservation, even in the Third World. Thus, a nonanthropocentric framework for environmental ethics should be adopted as the basis for policy decisions.

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