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Environmental Values

At the Centre of What? A Critical Note on the Centrism-Terminology in Environmental Ethics

Lars Samuelsson

Environmental Values 22 (2013): 627-645. doi: 10.3197/096327113X13745164553879


The distinction between anthropocentric and non-anthropocentric theories, together with the more fine-grained distinction between anthropocentrism, biocentrism and ecocentrism, are probably two of the most frequently occurring distinctions in the environmental ethics literature. In this essay I draw attention to some problematic aspects of the terminology used to draw these distinctions: the 'centrism-terminology'. I argue that this terminology is ambiguous and misleading, and therefore confusing. Furthermore, depending on which interpretation it is given, it is also either asymmetric and non-inclusive, or superfluous. Although I find it unlikely that the centrism-terminology will be abandoned, I end the essay by providing a suggestion for an alternative way to categorise theories in environmental ethics.


Anthropocentrism, non-anthropocentrism, ecocentrism, biocentrism, environmental ethics

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

Anthropocentrism: A Misunderstood Problem. Tim Hayward

Animal Liberation is an Environmental Ethic. Dale Jamieson

Anthropocentrism vs. Nonanthropocentrism: Why Should We Care? Katie McShane

Environmental Values, Anthropocentrism and Speciesism. Onora O'Neill

Reasons and Values in Environmental Ethics. Lars Samuelsson

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles

Editorial: Equity, Ethics and Evidence in Environmental Governance. Claudia Carter

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