Volume 40, Issue 4, Winter 2018
African Environmental Philosophy
Edward Uzoma Ezedike
Ratiocentrism, Intrinsic Value, and the Moral Status of the Nonhuman Natural World
A Reflection on Kant’s Categorial Imperative
Kant’s doctrine of the “categorical imperative” with respect to ratiocentrism needs to be examined for its implications for environmental ethics. Kant’s argument is that moral actions must be categorical or unqualified imperatives that reflect the sovereignty of moral obligations that all rational moral agents could figure out by virtue of their rationality. For Kant, humans have no direct moral obligations to non-rational, nonhuman nature: only rational beings, i.e., humans, are worthy of moral consideration. I argue that this position is excessively anthropocentric and ratiocentric in excluding the nonhuman natural world from moral consideration. While conceding that nonhuman nature is instrumentally valuable owing to some inevitable existential, ontological considerations, moral obligation should be extended to the natural world in order to achieve environmental wholeness.