Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics

, Volume 13, Issue 3–4, pp 181–203

Taking Humanism Seriously: ``Obligatory'' Anthropocentrism

  • David Sztybel

Abstract

Humanism – in the sense that humans alonehave moral standing, or else a surpassing degree of it– has traditionally dominated all of ethicaldiscourse. However, its past formulations havesuccumbed to the temptation merely to stipulate sucha criterion, such as rationality, which nonhumans areoften deemed (without sufficient argument) to failwithout exception. Animal liberationistarguments do exist in counterpoint to traditionalhumanism, but one current difficulty seems to be asimple clash of basic assumptions, with an indecisiveresult. Although the author of this paper is anonanthropocentrist, he attempts to further the moraltheoretical debate by constructing a more powerfulversion of humanism, based in a pursuit of the good,per se. The theory is premised upon viewing humans asgenerally having and leading lives of greater value,in some relevant sense. This essay prefigures theauthor's refutation of humanism, more generally, inthe understanding that such a world view cannot trulybe refuted unless its best version is answered.Whatever the status of this paper's offering of``Obligatory'' Anthropocentrism, the theory can be seento have a great deal more success than itspredecessors in parrying, and apparently outdoing,contemporary animal liberationist philosophies.

animal rights anthropocentrism empathy environmental ethics ethics humanism 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Sztybel
    • 1
  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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