A pragmatic reconsideration of anthropocentrism

Eric Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


For much of its brief history, the field of environmental ethics has been critical of anthropocentrism. I here undertake a pragmatic reconsideration of anthropocentrism. In the first part of this essay, I explain svhat a pragmatic reconsideration of anthropocentrism means. I differentiate two distinct pragmatic strategies, one substantive and one methodological, and I adopt methodological pragmatism as my guiding principle. In the second part of this essay, I examine a case study of environmental policy - the problem of beach replenishment on Fire Island, New York - as a pragmatic test of anthropocentrism. I conclude that the debate between anthropocentrism and nonanthropocentrism needs to be expressed in non-absolutist terms, i.e., in a language that permits compromise, flexibility, and a pluralism of values. The choice between anthropocentrism and nonanthropocentrism as the basis of both environmental policy and environmental ethics is highly contextual and thus requires a subtle examination of the concrete policy situation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-389
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Ethics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Philosophy


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