Astrobiology and Biocentrism

  • Roberto Aretxaga
Part of the Cellular Origin and Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology book series (COLE, volume 7)


The term “biocentrism” is polysemicinas far asit has, at least, three different meanings. One of them is to be found in the field of Philosophy, another in the Environmental Sciences, and a third interpretation is also provided in the area of astrobiology. In the field of philosophy, the term “biocentrism”isused to describe that ethical theory which denies that human beings occupy a privileged position with respect to other living creatures, as well as humankind’s centrality as a source of universal values. Life at large is taken as the only source and holder of any value by biocentrism, which implies that humanity is displaced from its central position, and so biocentrism is anti-anthropocentric. This is the usage the term is given in the “deep ecology” and conservation movement, based on the theories developed by Aldo Leopold and Paul W. Taylor. The second use of “biocentrism” is opposed to that of “functionalism”. In this sense, these two designations refer to opposing views in the study and management of the environment, which, in turn, have generated two distinct scientific disciplines: population ecology and system ecology, respectively. Bearing this difference in mind, biocentrism is best characterized as focusing on organisms and taking the “biota” as its basic component. Besides, biocentrism relies on natural selection as its explanatory paradigm and defends biodiversity.


Ethical Theory Human Culture Environmental Ethic Opposing View Privileged Position 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roberto Aretxaga
    • 1
  1. 1.Philosophy Department, School of Philosophy and Educational SciencesUniversity of DeustoBilbaoSpain

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