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Anthropocentrism and Egoism

John Nolt

Environmental Values 22 (2013): 441-459. doi: 10.3197/096327113X13690717320667


Concern with ethical anthropocentrism has largely been confined to debates in animal and environmental ethics. Philosophers generally have shown little interest in it. Ethical egoism, by contrast, though usually rejected, has sparked wide philosophical interest. This is surprising, for the two are akin; anthropocentrism is egoism writ large - the egoism of the human species. This paper explains the kinship by articulating this analogy, shows that the analogy provides for each argument for or against ethical egoism an analogous argument for or against ethical anthropocentrism, and demonstrates the analogy's fruitfulness by using it to extrapolate from an existing argument against ethical egoism a novel argument against ethical anthropocentrism.


Animal ethics, anthropocentrism, egoism, environmental ethics, speciesism

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