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Environmental Philosophy

Volume 5, Issue 2, Fall 2008

Species of Thought

Christian Diehm
Pages 3-16
DOI: 10.5840/envirophil2008523

Staying True to Trees
A Specific Look at Anthropocentrism and Non-Anthropocentrism

This essay examines how becoming familiar with trees in their specificity might impact how we position ourselves in the ongoing debate among environmental philosophers regarding anthropocentric and non-anthropocentric approaches to environmental ethics. It begins with an analysis of what the process of learning to identify trees entails, and a discussion of how this often involves the development of non-instrumentalist evaluative attitudes towards them, an axiological orientation at odds with the instrumental reductivism characteristic of anthropocentric views. It is then argued that a basic concern we might have with anthropocentrism is that it does not admit what are perhaps the most significant values that emerge in relationship with other-than-human entities.