Note that the ethics of animal liberation or animal rights andbiocentrism are both individualistic in that their variousmoral concerns are directed towards individuals only—not ecologicalwholes such as species, populations, biotic communities, andecosystems. None of these is sentient, a subject-of-a-life, or ateleological-center-of-life, but the preservation of these collectiveentities is a major concern for many environmentalists. Moreover, thegoals of animal liberationists, such as the reduction of animalsuffering and death, may conflict with the goals ofenvironmentalists. For example, the preservation of the integrity ofan ecosystem may require the culling of feral animals or of someindigenous animal populations that threaten to destroy fragile habitats. Sothere are disputes about whether the ethics of animal liberation is aproper branch of environmental ethics (see Callicott 1980, 1988,Sagoff 1984, Jamieson 1998, Crisp 1998 and Varner 2000).
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The call for a “basic change of values” in connectionto the environment (a call that could be interpreted in terms ofeither instrumental or intrinsic values) reflected a need for thedevelopment of environmental ethics as a new sub-discipline ofphilosophy.
Barale-Thomas E. 2013. The SFPT feels compelled to point out weaknesses in the paper by Séralini et al. (2012) [Letter]. Food Chem Toxicol 53:473–474.
"Ecological morality," onthe other hand, identifies the particular normative environmentalethics of such writers as Aldo Leopold, who view man as a part of thenatural community with duties of respect and forbearance toward thatcommunity.
The paper was peer reviewed by scientists on behalf of the FCT and published accordingly. Hence, it initially met the threshold for publication. In our opinion, there must be a different threshold for forced retraction of the paper, and we believe that this paper did not reach that threshold. The COPE guidelines for retracting articles () provide four reasons for retraction: scientific misconduct/honest error, prior publication, plagiarism, or unethical research. None of these reasons apply to this particular article, and yet Elsevier, a member of COPE, chose to retract the paper.
When environmental ethics emerged as a new sub-discipline ofphilosophy in the early 1970s, it did so by posing a challenge totraditional anthropocentrism. In the first place, it questioned theassumed moral superiority of human beings to members of other specieson earth. In the second place, it investigated the possibility ofrational arguments for assigning intrinsic value to the naturalenvironment and its non-human contents. It should be noted, however,that some theorists working in the field see no need to develop new,non-anthropocentric theories. Instead, they advocate what may becalled enlightened anthropocentrism (or, perhaps moreappropriately called, prudential anthropocentrism). Briefly,this is the view that all the moral duties we have towards theenvironment are derived from our direct duties to its humaninhabitants. The practical purpose of environmental ethics, theymaintain, is to provide moral grounds for social policies aimed atprotecting the earth’s environment and remedying environmentaldegradation. Enlightened anthropocentrism, they argue, is sufficientfor that practical purpose, and perhaps even more effective indelivering pragmatic outcomes, in terms of policy-making, thannon-anthropocentric theories given the theoretical burden on thelatter to provide sound arguments for its more radical view that thenon-human environment has intrinsic value (cf. Norton 1991, de Shalit1994, Light and Katz 1996). Furthermore, some prudentialanthropocentrists may hold what might be called cynicalanthropocentrism, which says that we have a higher-levelanthropocentric reason to be non-anthropocentric in our day-to-daythinking. Suppose that a day-to-day non-anthropocentrist tends to actmore benignly towards the non-human environment on which humanwell-being depends. This would provide reason for encouragingnon-anthropocentric thinking, even to those who find the idea ofnon-anthropocentric intrinsic value hard to swallow. In order for sucha strategy to be effective one may need to hide one’s cynicalanthropocentrism from others and even from oneself. The position canbe structurally compared to some indirect form of and may attract parallel critiques (see on utilitarianism and esoteric morality, and on indirect utilitarianism).
Accordingly, we may find that if we attempt to derive atruly cogent, coherent and far-seeing environmental ethic, groundedin the theory and the perspective of the ecological point of view,such an ethic may have to be defended in terms that most educatedpersons, and even many philosophers, are unfamiliar with; in terms,that is, that are out of step with current scholarly fashions ortraditions.
Many traditional western ethical perspectives, however, areanthropocentric or human-centered in that either they assignintrinsic value to human beings alone (i.e., what we might callanthropocentric in a strong sense) or they assign asignificantly greater amount of intrinsic value to human beings thanto any non-human things such that the protection or promotion of humaninterests or well-being at the expense of non-human things turns outto be nearly always justified (i.e., what we might callanthropocentric in a weak sense). For example, Aristotle(Politics, Bk. 1, Ch. 8) maintains that “nature hasmade all things specifically for the sake of man” and that thevalue of non-human things in nature is merely instrumental. Generally,anthropocentric positions find it problematic to articulate what iswrong with the cruel treatment of non-human animals, except to theextent that such treatment may lead to bad consequences for humanbeings. Immanuel Kant (“Duties to Animals and Spirits”, inLectures on Ethics), for instance, suggests that crueltytowards a dog might encourage a person to develop a character whichwould be desensitized to cruelty towards humans. From this standpoint,cruelty towards non-human animals would be instrumentally, rather thanintrinsically, wrong. Likewise, anthropocentrism often recognizes somenon-intrinsic wrongness of anthropogenic (i.e. human-caused)environmental devastation. Such destruction might damage thewell-being of human beings now and in the future, since our well-beingis essentially dependent on a sustainable environment (see Passmore1974; Bookchin 1990; Norton et al. (eds.) 1995).
The progress in knowledge and material well-being may not be a badthing in itself, where the consumption and control of nature is anecessary part of human life. However, the critical theorists arguethat the positivistic disenchantment of natural things (and, likewise,of human beings—because they too can be studied and manipulated byscience) disrupts our relationship with them, encouraging theundesirable attitude that they are nothing more than things to beprobed, consumed and dominated. According to the critical theorists,the oppression of “outer nature” (i.e., the naturalenvironment) through science and technology is bought at a very highprice: the project of domination requires the suppression of our own“inner nature” (i.e., human nature)—e.g., humancreativity, autonomy, and the manifold needs, vulnerabilities andlongings at the centre of human life. To remedy such an alienation,the project of Horkheimer and Adorno is to replace the narrowpositivistic and instrumentalist model of rationality with a morehumanistic one, in which the values of the aesthetic, moral, sensuousand expressive aspects of human life play a central part. Thus, theiraim is not to give up our rational faculties or powers of analysis andlogic. Rather, the ambition is to arrive at a dialectical synthesisbetween Romanticism and Enlightenment, to return to anti-deterministicvalues of freedom, spontaneity and creativity.