THE CONCEPT OF PAUL TAYLOR’S BIOCENTRIC ETHICS

ABSTRACT
Ethics as an aspect of axiology has always existed strictly as a human affair. This had given rise to the conclusion that human centered ethics, in its conception and articulation is insufficient in the face of the present day environmental problem; since humans neither consider the natural world nor its wild living beings as entity worthy of moral consideration. With the three main components of Taylor’s  ethics, namely:  the belief- system, the attitude of respect for nature and the system of rules and principles, the study established the intelligibility and necessity of a life-centered theory of environmental ethics (which also is its main objective) against the prevailing anthropocentric  view. To attain the above stated goal, the work employed the historical and analytical methods, interpretation and argumentation to explore data sourced from books, journals and articles. The analyses of the work under discussion revealed the following: (i) that it is intelligible to conceive a life-centered theory of environmental ethics similar to human ethics, (ii) It is also a necessity because human ethics is insufficient in our present day environmental problems, (iii) human claim of superiority over nonhuman living beings could not be philosophically justified (iv) the nonhuman living beings of the natural world have inherent worth of their own, which does depend on their usage in furthering any human end. Despite the challenges and conflicts inherent in life-centered theory of environmental ethics, the study saw the possibility of adopting Taylor’s biocentric ethics as a means of solving the present day environmental problems and also articulating new environmental concern.

TABLE OF CONTENT

Abstract

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1       Background to the Study
1.2       Statement of the Problem
1.3       Purpose of the Study
1.4       Scope of the Study
1.5       Significance of the Study
1.6       Methodology

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
Endnotes

CHAPTER THREE: THE CONCEPT OF PAUL TAYLOR’S BIOCENTRIC ETHICS
3.1 Life and Biocentrism
3.2 The Critique of Anthropocentric Ethics
3.3 The Attitude of Respect
3.4 The Belief System
3.5 The System of Rules and Standards
Endnotes

CHAPTER FOUR: RESOLVING ENVIRONMENTAL CONFLICTS
4.1 The Nature of these Conflict
4.2 The Application of the Priority Principles
4.3 The Ethics of Bioculture
4.4 Ethical harmony between Humans and Nonhumans
Endnotes

CHAPTER FIVE: EVALUATION
5.1 Important Considerations on Taylor’s Biocentric Ethics
5.2 The Implications of Taylor’s Biocentric Ethics
5.3 Challenges to Taylor’s Ethics
Summary And Conclusion
Endnotes

BIBLIOGRAPHY

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION

1.1  Background of the Study
In the course of my consideration on what to write on, I came across a book titled The Environmental Ethics Policy Book, edited by Donald VanDeveer and Christine Pierce, which belonged to my supervisor. Reading from the book the works of Peter Singer and Paul Taylor, on Animal Liberation and Respect for Nature: A Theory of Environmental Ethics respectively, I was relieved to discover that environmental issues have philosophical/ethical dimension. With the above discovery in mind, I was determined to seek the philosophical and ethical justification of humans in their unrestrained exploitation and abuse of the natural ecosystems. In this regard, therefore, I found Paul Taylor’s ethics of respect for nature in line, and appropriate for my considerations.
 The three elements of Taylor’s concept of environmental ethics that attracted my concern were: the emphasis on Life itself as the prerequisite for moral consideration, the affirmation of the inherent worth instead of Right of living things, and the application of normative principles for fair resolution of conflicts. Thus, it is pertinent to state here that the above account led me into this research work.
          Paul Taylor’s concept of environmental ethics resulted from the call for a new ethics, which will account for our moral relation with the natural world. This call for a new ethics emerged when the recent degradation and destruction of the natural environment by various human activities attracted the attention and concern of philosophers. The root cause of man’s domination and destruction of the natural world was located in the tenet of the traditional ethical systems and was tagged Anthropocentrism because of its affirmation that only human beings deserve moral concern and consideration. The rejection of anthropocentrism or anthropocentric ethics paved way for the development of a new field in ethics known as Environmental Ethics or Environmental Philosophy – to evaluate our moral relation with the natural environment. The above analysis makes it logical that every development of a theory in environmental ethics must necessarily begin with the critique of anthropocentric ethics. Responding to this demand for a new ethics, some philosophers and moralists have conceived a new ethics as the mere extension of the traditional ethical theories such as teleological theory, Deontological theory and Utilitarian theory to sentient animals. The above view came to be known as extentionism, since the argument here is centred on extending human ethical theories to accommodate non-human animals. The proponents of the above view were concerned in the inclusion of animals in the sphere of morality.
         Seeing the inclusion of only sentient animals in the sphere of morality as narrow, another group of philosophers conceived a new ethics which broadens moral relevance and consideration to include whatever that possesses life. This view came to be known as biocentrism, which is translated from the Greek word bio - life, to mean life-centred ethics. There is yet the last group of environmental philosophers, who were radical in their articulations and views. They demand that moral relevance be widened to accommodate everything in the ecosystem directly and not indirectly. This view has been termed ecocentricism or holism.
         Paul Taylor’s concept of biocentric ethics as presented in his book Respect for Nature: A Theory of Environmental Ethics was developed by him as a rejection of anthropocentrism (which exalts human beings at the detriment of other living beings) and extensionism for being so narrow in its inclusion of only sentient beings in the sphere of moral relevance. In contrast to the above view, Taylor seeks an ethics that accommodates all living beings. His view is built upon the idea that all living being in the natural world has an inherent worth of their own which is derived from the fact that they are teleological centres of life, and with a good of their own. Hence, to respond to this life-centred ethics, as conceived by Taylor, humans must adopt an attitude of respect for nature.
1.2  Statement of the Problem
Ethics as an aspect of axiology has always existed strictly as a human affair. This conception, which has been tagged anthropocentrism, has consequently inspired the recent degradation and unhealthy exploitation of the natural world by various human activities, such as the destruction of the ecosystems, the disposal of dangerous substances into the sea or in open places, etc. The issue here is that humans neither consider the natural world nor its living wilds as entities worthy of moral concern and consideration. Thus, human centered ethics, in its conception and articulation is insufficient in the provision of moral guide on how well humans should relate with the natural world....

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Attribute: 98 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: N3,000  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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