What is Biocentric Environmental Ethcis? Breaking it down, Biocentrism is the theory that all living things have equal and inherent worth, relating to the concept “deep ecology.” Take, for instance Matthew Hall, he believes plants are sentient beings. Hall argues that plants should be considered sentient beings, just like Paul Taylor.
Taylor is a philosophy professor at Brooklyn College, and he wrote on biocentric egalitarianism in his book Respect for Nature (1986). Stating that all things, including plants, have equal and inherent worth, Taylor wrote 10 lessons for respecting nature. First, humans centered and life centered systems of environmental ethics, second, the good of a being and the concept of inherent worth, third, the attitude of respect for nature, fourth, the justifiabiliy of the attitude of respect for nature, fifth, the biocentric outlook on nature, sixth, humans as members of the Earth’s community of life, seventh, the natural world as an organic system, eighth, individual organisms as teleological centers of life, ninth, denial of human superiority, and tenth, moral rights and the matter of competing claims. These are the ten sets of advice Taylor gives, he believes that non-humans have an inherent value just as humans do. Therefore, humans have five priority principles which help deal with the conflicts between non-human animals and humans, and each other’s values. The five principles are: self defense, proportionality, minimum wrong, distributive justice, and finally restitutive justice.
However, if any situation is too complicated to use one of the five presented principles then on should use ethical ideals. The overall aim is to live in harmony with all non-humans on Earth, and therefore any decision should keep that idea in mind. However, don’t we as humans have the right to fulfill our own interests? Yet, if our interests intertwine with what is best with non-human animals what do we do then? Most humans believe that it is the non-basic interests which are worth seeking out, but because some of our non-basic interests are not compatible with respect to nature’s interests. An example includes hunting for sport, and in this case, it does not infringe on human rights; it does not harm other humans.
But, if we apply environmental ethics, then these actions seem wrong because that would be saying that basic interests of non-human animals are not on par with the non-basic needs of humans. Thus, no one with respect for nature, including Taylor, would agree to non-basic interests which harm the interests of non-human animals. Then can we say that the pursuit for development has not only harmed us but the non-basic interests of non-human organisms as well?
Using Taylor’s five principles, one sees that basic interests should always be given priority regardless of species. Therefore, we should be more aware of our surroundings, and how our non-basic needs affect other species which surround us. Take, for example a zoo, it is a place for education and awareness; yet it harms the interests of non-human animals. Animals are not meant to be caged. Although it is beneficial for human kind, animals do not thrive in these “exhibits.” In fact, these exhibits limit cognitive growth, reduce a species interactions with other species, and reduces its environment down to the very basics; but how are they supposed to grow, figuratively and literally. We should think about what is best for the animals, as well as ourselves. Are there alternative programs than zoos? Maybe zoos with larger, life-like exhibits which allow the animals space, as well as interactions amongst species its would normally interact with in nature.
That is my belief. Animals, plants and humans live together on this big rock. Lets live cohesively amongst each other, keeping each others basic and non-basic interests in mind.