The Ecological Citizen: Confronting human supremacy


Long article

Why ecocentrism is the key pathway to sustainability

Haydn Washington, Bron Taylor, Helen Kopnina, Paul Cryer, John J Piccolo

The Ecological Citizen Vol 1 No 1 2017: 35–41

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First published: 1 July 2017  |  PERMANENT URL  |  DOWNLOAD CITATION IN RIS FORMAT


Ecocentrism is the broadest term for worldviews that recognize intrinsic value in all lifeforms and ecosystems themselves, including their abiotic components. Anthropocentrism, in contrast, values other lifeforms and ecosystems insofar as they are valuable for human well-being, preferences and interests. Herein, the authors examine the roots of ecocentrism and discuss its mixed history of international recognition. They argue that non-human nature has intrinsic value irrespective of human preferences or valuation, and they refute the claim that ecocentrism is misanthropic. They then summarize four key examples from the academic literature in which anthropocentrism fails to provide an ethic adequate for respecting and protecting planet Earth and its inhabitants. The authors conclude that ecocentrism is essential for solving our unprecedented environmental crisis, arguing its importance from four perspectives: ethical, evolutionary, spiritual and ecological. They contend that a social transformation towards ecocentrism is not only an ethical but a practical imperative, and they urge support for ecocentric understanding and practices.



Anthropocentrism, Ecological ethics, Geodiversity, Intrinsic value, Worldviews