International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 36, Issue 1, Spring 2022

Yikunoamlak MesfinOrcid-ID
Pages 15-25

The Will to Live and Reverence for Life
A Philosophical Base for Biocentrism

Biocentrism environmental ethicists and animal rights defenders have been articulating ethical principles to extend moral standing to nonhuman beings. The natural propensities of living beings to pain and pleasure, being a subject of life, and having specific good and interest (as proposed by Singer, Regan, Tayler, and Goodpaster, respectively), have been taken as a reason to determine the moral status of the beings in question. This article makes the case that none of them can offer all-inclusive ideal for biocentrism to embrace all life forms as moral patients since they are either exclusive, hierarchical, or imprecise. To this end, I argue that it is possible to drive a unifying ideal from Schopenhauer’s metaphysics: the will to live. The will to live is a quality that all living beings share, regardless of their abilities and propensities. Both conscious and unconscious beings, sentient and non-sentient creatures, lower animals and plants are the embodi­ments or physical forms of the ultimate reality that is the will to live. Thus, biocentrism becomes more valid and effective in environmental preservation by incorporating the will to live into its ethical principle.