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Understanding Speciesism and the Limitations of Anthropocentrism (Essay Sample)


It is to identify the limitations of specism.


Speciesism and the Limitations of Anthropocentrism
Environmental ethics has the aim of understanding the nature and type of moral values that humans need to cultivate in their dealings with the natural world. Most societies of the world are characterized by the presence of an ethical approach that assumes that the other parts of the environment are simply created to gratify and satisfy human needs. This view is known as anthropocentric environmental ethics and came to be questioned in the contemporary world where there is an increasing awareness of the negative effects of human activity on the environment. This in return gave birth to the emergence of ecocentric environmental ethics that recognizes the rights of human beings and also other parts of the environment. One of the major aspects of the anthropocentric approach is the idea of speciesism and it is the arbitrary assumption that only human beings as one from of species have rights. In this paper, the limitations of speciesism will be identified. It will be argued that it is a position that neglects mutual interdependence, will destroy the world beyond repair, and does not recognize the intrinsic value of other forms of life. In return, there is a need to focus on relational ethics that grants moral status to other forms of life as well.   
Anthropocentric ethics is founded on the idea of a hierarchical gradation existing between human beings and other forms of life. By using an arbitrary standard, it assumes that human beings alone have an intrinsic value and that the other parts of the world do not have a value on their own. Such a view, “assumes human-centeredness and the privileged position of human beings” (Dzwonkowska 724). This ethical position finds expression in the greatest religions and ethical orientations that are found in the world. Anthropocentric ethics is the normative position that is found between religions like Christianity and Islam and it assumes that as long as human needs are being met, then any ethical approach towards the environment is morally accounted for. It is “the egocentric, anthropocentric belief that humans are the ‘brains of the planet’ lies at the heart of the problem” (Strang 212). The problems of such an ethical position were identified by the ecocentric ethical position that extended moral value not just to human beings but also to other parts of the environment. Based on such a conception, living in a world where there are interconnections between human beings and other parts of the environment, there is a need to develop a sustainable approach that can promote and maintain the relations of interdependence that are found between the ecosystems.
Anthropocentric environmental ethics is made possible by the idea of speciesism. This is the assumption that one type of species is primordially and qualitatively superior to others. It does not show why such a species deserves such a special place in the world and does not show why it should use all the other forms of species to meet its interests. The approach is supported by the assumption that there are species that are here to rule the world and other ones that only have a derivative value and are here to meet the needs of human beings. Speciesism goes hand in hand with the development of modern science and technology. This shows that “a position is speciesist if it defends an unjustified disadvantageous consideration or treatment of certain individuals because they are not members of a given species” (Horta 245). The development of such an instrumental approach that has allowed human beings to control and exert their dominance over the world they are living in, is grounded on the assumption that human beings have a superior place in the world.

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