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  • Open Access
  • © 2022

Speciesism in Biology and Culture

How Human Exceptionalism is Pushing Planetary Boundaries

  • This book is Open Access which means that there is free and unlimited access to the content

  • Delves into what the roots are of our current anthropocentric practices

  • Discusses what the problems and solutions are to our present environmental and conservation challenges

  • Explores what the future of food, energy, the environment, and humanity is

Buying options

Hardcover Book USD 159.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Table of contents (9 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xvi
  2. Biology and Culture

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 1-1
    2. Speciesism, Science, and Society

      • Brian Swartz, Brent D. Mishler
      Pages 3-31Open Access
    3. Race and Human Genomic Variation

      • Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther
      Pages 33-46Open Access
    4. Science Without Species: Doing Science with Tree-Thinking

      • Nicholas J. Matzke
      Pages 47-61Open Access
  3. Culture and History

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 63-63
    2. Species, God, and Dominion

      • John S. Wilkins
      Pages 95-110Open Access
    3. Symbols and How We Came to Be Human

      • Mark W. Moffett
      Pages 111-123Open Access
  4. Conservation and Law

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 125-125
    2. Law and Nature: Human, Non-human, and Ecosystem Rights

      • Gary Steiner, Marc Lucht
      Pages 127-153Open Access
  5. Sustainability and the Future

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 179-179
    2. Energy and Society: Toward a Sustainable Future

      • Saul Griffith
      Pages 181-203Open Access

About this book

This open access book explores a wide-ranging discussion about the sociopolitical, cultural, and scientific ramifications of speciesism and world views that derive from it. In this light, it integrates subjects across the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

The 21st-century western world is anthropocentric to an extreme; we adopt unreasonably self-centered and self-serving ideas and lifestyles. Americans consume more energy resources per person than most other nations on Earth and have little concept of how human ecology and population biology interface with global sustainability. We draw upon religion, popular culture, politics, and technology to justify our views and actions, yet remain self-centered because our considerations rarely extend beyond our immediate interests. Stepping upward on the hierarchy from “racism,” “speciesism” likewise refers to the view that unique natural kinds (species) exist and are an important structural element of biodiversity. This ideology manifests in the cultural idea that humans are distinct from and intrinsically superior to other forms of life. It further carries a plurality of implications for how we perceive ourselves in relation to nature, how we view Judeo-Christian religions and their tenets, how we respond to scientific data about social problems such as climate change, and how willing we are to change our actions in the face of evidence.



  • Speciesism
  • anthropocentric practices
  • conservation biology
  • ecological and evolutionary history
  • environmental ethics
  • religion and culture
  • open access

Editors and Affiliations

  • Department of Integrative Biology, University and Jepson Herbaria; University of California, Berkeley, BERKELEY, USA

    Brian Swartz, Brent D. Mishler

About the editors

Brian Swartz is a scientist at the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere and the University and Jepson Herbaria (, His research focuses on speciesism and the global consequences of human self-interests. This includes fostering positive social and environmental outcomes that support a prosperous future for life on Earth. To this end he also works with entrepreneurs and investors in artificial intelligence, machine learning, extended reality, quantum computing, blockchain technology, DeFi, web3, and game design who hold a similar vision for the future. Brian was trained at Cambridge, Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard, Penn, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Brent D. Mishler is Director of the University and Jepson Herbaria and Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, where he teaches about island biology, biodiversity, evolution, and phylogenetic analysis. He received his PhD from Harvard University in 1984. His research interests are in the ecology and evolutionary biology of bryophytes (mosses and liverworts), as well as the theory of phylogenetic systematics. He has been heavily involved in developing electronic resources to present taxonomic and distributional information about plants to the public, with applications to conservation concerns. He has most recently been involved in developing new "spatial phylogenetic" tools for studying biodiversity and endemism using large-scale phylogenies and collection data in a geographic and statistical framework.

Bibliographic Information

Buying options

Hardcover Book USD 159.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)