Here are my beginning definitions of anthropocentrism, biocentrism, and ecocentrism. Later in the semester I will do a large post on each with. To that, they counterpose what is variously called biocentrism or ecocentrism – the view that all living things have the same or similar intrinsic. This could explain why biocentrism and anthropocentrism are sometimes found to overlap Ecocentric and anthropocentric attitudes toward the environment.

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Why should deforestation be stopped? Why should greenhouse gas emissions be reduced? To answer moral queries such as these, one could point to the wellbeing of future generations and the survival of the human species. One could also appeal to the preservation of biodiversity and the intrinsic value of the natural world. Anthropocentric concerns for the environment are narrowly aimed at preserving the welfare of humans, while biocentric concerns are oriented toward protecting non-human organisms and nature as a whole.

While anthropocentrism can sometimes lead to pro-environmental attitudes and actions, biocentrism is more reliably and robustly related to environmentalism, both for abstract values and for concrete behaviors e. This makes sense, as anthropocentrism promotes the preservation of the environment as a means to an end rather than an end in itself. However, biocentrism treats environmentalism as a moral imperative independently of its impact on human flourishing.

In order to promote environmentalism, it is crucial to understand how moral intuitions can be made to resonate with values related to preserving the natural world Markowitz and Shariff, Therefore, examining the psychological foundations of biocentrism promises to illuminate a path toward a more sustainable future.

For this goal to be achieved, the idea of biocentrism must be deconstructed and operationalized in psychologically meaningful terms. In particular, biocentrism is unlikely to be a singular stance; rather, it plausibly consists of at least two qualitatively distinct attitudes. First, biocentrism can stem from a desire to avoid hurting sentient beings e. Second, biocentrism can stem from a desire to uphold purity in nature e.

Avoiding harm and preserving purity have been identified as two separate forms of moral concern that rely on functionally distinct systems of cognitive and emotional processing e. Therefore, the concept of biocentrism potentially obscures a psychologically important distinction in environmentalist attitudes. Subdividing biocentrism into two separate moral concerns—about harm and about purity—provides a meaningful starting point for investigating its psychological underpinnings Rottman et al.

Understanding biocentrism in terms of avoiding harm emphasizes the importance of extending mental states and rights to non-human entities. In particular, the tendency toward anthropomorphization can enhance environmentalism because non-humans are conceptualized as possessing more humanlike minds, thus having a heightened capacity to be harmed Waytz et al.


Multiple studies have demonstrated that anthropomorphizing other species or nature as a whole increases biocentric beliefs and behaviors e.

Additionally, taking the perspective of animals that are being harmed leads to greater biocentric concerns for the environment Schultz, Biocentric concerns about harming anthropkcentrism therefore rest on expanded capacities for person perception and subjective ascriptions of others’ suffering Gray et al.

In this way, biocentrism can arise from the same psychological processes that produce anthropocentrism; the only difference is that they are applied to a broader moral circle. This could explain why biocentrism and anthropocentrism are sometimes found to overlap e.

Anthropocentric, Ecocentric, and Biocentric views among students in Japan

Alternatively, biocentrism is sometimes rooted in concerns about purity or sanctity. In particular, nature can be conceptualized as a divine creation that people have a sacred duty to preserve Wardekker et al.

This purity-based construal may be especially salient for particular populations. For example, framing environmental messages in terms of upholding the purity of the environment increases the pro-environmental attitudes of political conservatives, while harm-based framings do not exert any effect Feinberg and Willer, Biocentriem, although this form of biocentrism is probably predominant in religious and spiritual individuals Sherkat and Ellison,it is likely found in secular individuals as well.

Therefore, biocentrism is sometimes orthogonal to considerations about harm, arising from very different psychological processes than those that produce anthropocentric concerns. In sum, biocentrism can be driven by at least two distinct moral concerns. When biocentrism eccocentrism focused on avoiding harm, it is primarily geared toward protecting sentient and humanized entities, and it is likely moderated by individual differences in the tendency to anthropomorphize nature.

Conversely, when biocentrism is focused on upholding the purity of the environment, it primarily operates at a more systemic level rather than focusing on the protection of discrete, individuated entities. Additionally, a purity-based biocentrism is likely moderated by individual differences in spirituality and in tendencies to treat certain objects as possessing inherent value.

The psychological profiles underlying biocentric environmentalist attitudes due to harm concerns and due to purity concerns are therefore very different, although they might sometimes co-occur.

Recognizing this distinction anthdopocentrism substantial implications for the efficacy of particular forms of environmentalist discourse Rottman et al.

An adequate account of environmentalist attitudes requires that the construct of biocentrism is ultimately replaced by more nuanced distinctions.

Breaking down biocentrism: two distinct forms of moral concern for nature

Understanding this aspect of human psychology will serve as a crucial step in putting an end to deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and countless other environmental threats. The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. I am grateful to Biocrntrism Severson for helpful feedback on a previous draft.

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Biocentrism (ethics) – Wikipedia

Conflict of interest statement The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. When closing the human—animal divide expands moral concern: Mangy mutt or furry friend? Anthropomorphism promotes animal welfare. Value orientations to explain beliefs related to environmental significant behavior: The moral roots of environmental attitudes.

Ecocentric and anthropocentric attitudes toward the environment. Mind perception is the essence of morality. Daedalus55—66 Along the Rio Negro: Brazilian children’s environmental views and values. Do children play fair with mother nature? Understanding children’s judgments of environmentally harmful actions. Children’s moral and ecological reasoning about the Prince William Sound oil spill. Erlbaum;— Kahn P. Environmental views and values of children in an inner-city Black community.

Climate change and moral judgement. Change 2— Hindering harm and preserving purity: How can moral psychology save the planet? The CAD triad hypothesis: Issues 56— Values and their relationship to environmental concern and conservation behavior.

Values and proenvironmental behavior: Oxford University Press;81—91 Steg L. Factors influencing the acceptability of energy policies: The value basis of environmental concern. Issues 5065—84 Anthropomorphism enhances connectedness to and protectiveness toward nature. The sanctification of nature and theological conservatism: Ethics and public perception of climate change: Change 19— The stability and importance of individual differences in anthropomorphism.

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