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BIOCENTRIC

EGALITARIANISM
Paul Taylor

Dimson, Ignacio
Narciso , Pardilla
QUIZ
• OBJECTIVE QUESTIONS (5pts)
1. True or False
The “Principle of Moral Concern” states that all living beings
are entitled to concern and consideration from all moral
agents.
2. What is the name of the author?
3. What is the type of outlook that underlies the attitude of
respect for nature?
4. Name one basic rule of conduct
5. Name one priority principle for the fair resolution of
conflicting claims
• ESSAY QUESTION (2pts)
• Differentiate respect for nature and love for nature?
Paul W. Taylor
 Professor of Philosophy in Brooklyn College,

City University of New york

 Author of several works including Respect for Nature (1986)

 Develops Schweitzer’s life-centered system of environmental

ethics

 Argues that each living individual has a “teleological center of life”


Anthropocentric vs. Biocentric

Anthropocentric View
• It is to humans and only to humans that all duties are ultimately
owed

Biocentric Theory
• Duty to living things is an end in itself

• “we have prima facie moral obligations that are owed to animals
and plants as members of the Earth’s biotic community”
NOTE

This theory introduces a wider scope of environmental ethics

Humans  Animals  All living things

 “Balance of Nature” itself is not a moral norm but may help

in our general outlook about biocentric system of

environmental ethics.
GOOD OF BEING
&
INHERENT WORTH
Good of a Being

Good: full development of biological powers

Biological Powers: preservation of existence and normal life cycle

• Involves community/population aside from individuals

The Good of a being, therefore, is not based on sentience or

awareness (wanting us to do it to/for them or not)


Good of a Being

Goal-directed and self-regulating machines are not included

in the discussion

GMOs, farmed, and domesticated species are also not

included in their individual sense. Only its effects in natural

ecosystem and wild inhabitants.


Inherent Worth
‘Good of its own’

• without reference to any other entity, a living being can be

harmed or benefitted.

Why beings should have inherent worth is presupposed.


Inherent Worth
Principle of Moral Consideration
• It may be necessary to act contrary to the good of some particular
organisms to further the good of others but every individual is deserving of
consideration from all moral agents because they are members of the
Earth’s living community

Principle of Intrinsic Value


• All living things must never be treated as a mere object whose entire value
lies in being instrumental to the good of some other entity.
ATTITUDE OF
RESPECT FOR NATURE
Ultimate Commitment

• Respect for nature is not derived from any higher

norm or more fundamental attitude. It sets the total

framework for our responsibilities toward the natural

world.
Respect for Nature vs. Love of Nature

• Moral agents can possess a concept of respect for

nature (similar to respect for people) regardless of

whether they love the nature or not.


Attitude of Respect for Nature Justification

• The biocentric outlook on nature cannot be justified by a

theory

• It is a philosophical outlook in life, anchored on the ecological

knowledge that all living beings are interdependent of each

other and respect for the living community can promote

stability and balance for the good of biotic community.


THREE DISPOSITIONS ON
ATTITUDE OF RESPECT TOWARD
NATURE
BIOCENTRIC
OUTLOOK ON
NATURE
BIOCENTRIC OUTLOOK?
• composed of 4 core beliefs
• underlies the attitude of respect for nature
• morally relevant facts that guide our conduct
• puts things in perspective for us humans
1. Humans are members of Earth’s community
of life, along with all other nonhuman living
organisms
• we share a relationship with each other and the Earth
• we are young species, recent arrivals
• initially unimportant, but now cause massive destruction
• others are not dependent on us
• ...but our well being is dependent on them
2. Natural world is an organic system
• we are all part of a unique web of interconnected organisms,
objects, and events
• working equilibrium preserved thanks to dynamics between
all components
• The survival of one species is interdependent on their
relations to other species
• The extinction of one species has untold effects on the food
chain and thus also the ecosystem
• Biological fact that compels us to realize that respecting
nature is rational and intelligible, not just moral
3. Individual organisms are teleological centers
of life
• each organism is unique and goal oriented, and in pursuit of
its own good (ie. survival)
• constant observation –> objective and true understanding –>
unique point of view
• conscious desire to exist not necessary so keri for plants
• excludes inanimate objects from the narrative
• Ie. Stones or robots
• no concept of personal well being
4. Humans are not inherently superior to other
beings
• However, they believe they are based on:
• MERITOCRACY VIA SKILLS AND MORAL AGENCY
• Having the attributes of a moral agentdoesn’t make us
“higher” than other beings, they make us incomparable
• setting human capacities and skills (ie. rationality) as the
standard for determining the “best” species is just us being
biased in our own favor
• ++ changing the standard of comparison to capacities and
skills of other organisms would make them better than us
• ++ the skills we value aren’t necessary for other animals to
survive
4. Humans are not inherently superior to other
beings
• However, they believe they are superior based on:
• INHERENT WORTH & INTRINSIC VALUE
• Inherent worth is incomparable
• Idea originated in
• Superiority/inferiority based on the past social structures
• No way of moving up the social ladder
• Meritocracy was not of importance, no basis
• Outgrown the concept for humans, but not for animals
• Just a bias in our favor (again)
4. Humans are not inherently superior to other
beings
• However, they believe they are superior based on:
• PHILOSOPHICAL CLAIMS
• Greek Humanism: rationality
• Cartesian dualism: soul
• Judeo Christian concept: likeness to God
Basic rules of conduct
• Rule of Non-maleficence

• Do no harm to those that do not harm you

• Rule of Non-interference

• Do not place restrictions on the freedom of individual

organisms
Basic rules of conduct

• Rule of Fidelity

• Remain faithful to the trust of individual animals in their wild state

• Rule of Restitutive Justice

• Moral agents must make amends to the moral subjects wronged

by taking restitutive actions to restore justice between them


PRIORITY PRINCIPLES
FOR THE
FAIR RESOLUTION
OF
CONFLICTING CLAIMS
Priority Principles
Prescribed priorities of humans during interactions that involves harm
We can make judgements if we are factually enlightened enough to take
their standpoint
Harm: varies and depends on the kind of organism concerned
“… it makes sense to speak of its [organism] faring well or
poorly to the extent that it is able or unable to live a life
fitted for its species-specific nature…”
In humans, it is mainly autonomy and rationality
• Includes deprivation of security, liberty, health (well-being of organs)

• Degree depends on the permanence


Between humans and harmful nonhumans

 Principle of Self-defense
• Moral agents are permitted to defend themselves from
organisms deemed harmful and dangerous, but must only
commit least possible harm to the latter

• Species-blind: moral agents not limited to human species


o Humans can be considered as “harmful and dangerous” as well

o “Between moral agents and harmful non moral agents”


Between humans and harmless nonhumans

Involve basic interests of organisms vs. non basic/basic

interests of humans

Humans must compensate for the harms they commit

against the harmless


Between humans and harmless nonhumans
Basic interest
• what an organism value as an essential part of their own existence
• Something that one have a right to be fulfilled

Non-basic interests
• Considered worth seeking
• The means we consider best for achieving them makes up our individual
values. There are two types:
o Intrinsically incompatible with Respect for Nature
o Intrinsically compatible but extrinsically detrimental to wildlife and natural
ecosystem
Between humans and harmless nonhumans
 Principle of Proportionality
• Basic interests > non basic interests

 Principle of Minimum Wrong


• People must determine whether the harm being done is
worth it, ensure that least possible harm is committed, and
compensate afterwards.
• ++ not so much of a pursuit of good but the search for the less evil
Between humans and harmless nonhumans
 Principle of Distributive Justice
• Aims to make it possible for non humans to carry on their natural
existence side by side
• it isn’t necessary for humans to stop eating and sacrifice their lives
just to show respect for nature.

 Principle of Restitutive Justice


• Use of minimum wrong or distributive justice principles to justify
human inflicted harm still exhibits unequal treatment; therefore
must make amends via restitutive action.
Reactions
Writing Style
• The author does not claim that he is right, but merely invites the readers to
consider the introduced theory

Influence
• Natural Moral Law
• Utilitarianism
• Categorical Imperatives

Citations:
(n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2018, from
http://hettingern.people.cofc.edu/Environmental_Ethics/Taylor_Respect_for_Nature.htm