Astrobiology and Biocentrism
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.
KeywordsEthical Theory Human Culture Environmental Ethic Opposing View Privileged Position
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Aretxaga, R. (2003) La ciencia astrobiológica. Un nuevo reto para el humanismo del siglo XXI. Humanismo para el siglo XXI. Congreso Internacional (Bilbao, marzo 2003). Proceedings (CD-Rom), University of Deusto, Bilbao.Google Scholar
- Billingham, J., Heyns, R., Milne, D., Doyle, S., Klein, M., Heilbron, J., Ashkenazi, M., Michaud, M., Lutz, J. and Shostak, S. (eds.) (1994) Social Implications of the Detection of an Extraterrestrial Civilization, SETI Press, SETI Institute, California.Google Scholar
- Chela-Flores, J. (1998) Search for the Ascent of Microbial Life towards Intelligence in the Outer Solar System. In: R. Colombo, G. Giorello and E. Sindoni (eds.) Origin of the life in the universe. Edizioni New Press, Como, pp. 143–157.Google Scholar
- Chela-Flores, J. (2003) Marco cultural de la astrobiología. Letras de Deusto (University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain) N° 98, Vol. XXXIII, January-March, pp. 199–215.Google Scholar
- Norton, B. G. (1984) Environmental Ethics and Weak Anthropocentrism, Environmental Ethics, 6, pp. 131–148.Google Scholar
- Dick, S. J. (1984) Plurality of Worlds: The Origins of the Extraterrestrial Life Debate from Democritus to Kant. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Tough, A. (ed.) (2000) When SETI Succeeds: The Impact of High-Information Contact, Foundation for the Future, Washington, USA.Google Scholar