Fostering Ecological Citizenship Through Recognising Non-Anthropocentric Right to Habitat

  • Janet McIntyre-MillsEmail author
Part of the Contemporary Systems Thinking book series (CST)


Protecting human beings (including sentient beings) requires protecting our shared environment. The paper makes a case for non-anthropocentrism and for extending rights to human and other animals based on their individual sentience. Simultaneously, it makes the case for protecting their diverse habitats in order to provide the means for sustaining and regenerating multiple species. Sentience linked with compassion is a hallmark of humanity and higher-order animals. Empathy, fairness and reciprocity are pillars of morality and co-operation, according to De Waal and linked with our evolution. They are the basis for fostering an emotional connection with other species and the basis for developing Bateson’s notion of ‘Steps to an ecology of mind’. The case hinges on ethical appreciation of diversity, hybridity and interconnectedness supported by a new form of monitoring to protect diversity, based on extending protection to those who are currently unprotected by the social contract, who happen (by a role of the dice) to be born to a category that remains outside the mantle of protection. Firstly, it extends the argument based on the notion of intrinsic rights and extends De Waal’s so-called the tower of morality to other sentient beings. Secondly, it develops an argument for ecological citizenship rights and stewardship responsibilities to protect other species and biologically diverse habitats on which we depend as co-dependent living systems.


Ecological citizenship Social contract Non-anthropocentrism Capabilities Sentient beings 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Flinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.University of South AfricaPretoriaSouth Africa

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