Felt preferences refer to desires or needs satisfied by immediate experience. For example, I can meet my desire for sustenance by either making a sandwich in my kitchen or buying one from a deli. Humans encounter and satisfy their felt preferences on a daily basis. Thus, strong anthropocentrism places value on the satisfaction of individual felt preferences, while weak anthropocentrism fulfills some felt preferences but emphasizes considered preferences as the central determinate factor of values. To illustrate his argument, Norton offers the trust fund analogy.
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Felt preferences refer to desires or needs satisfied by immediate experience. For example, I can meet my desire for sustenance by either making a sandwich in my kitchen or buying one from a deli.
Humans encounter and satisfy their felt preferences on a daily basis. Thus, strong anthropocentrism places value on the satisfaction of individual felt preferences, while weak anthropocentrism fulfills some felt preferences but emphasizes considered preferences as the central determinate factor of values. To illustrate his argument, Norton offers the trust fund analogy.
Accordingly, the manager must distribute the contents of the trust properly to the current generation, maintaining an obligation to the integrity of the trust. The trust analogy presents us with two levels: distributional and allocation.
The distributional level claims that every human be valued the same. Therefore, everyone deserves fair treatment and access to environmental goods. Distributive fairness guides human behavior that negatively affects the environment, while regulating allocation in interest of the long-term health of our biosphere as an organic functioning unit.
That is, the current generation has general obligations to use natural resources sustainably and find supplements for those they exhaust, in order to maintain consciousness on earth. Consider aerial hunting in Alaska. Alaskan hunters use airplanes to track and shoot wolves in the wild. In some cases, hunters use this practice to protect the interests of humans, however in most cases, the wolves are killed for sport.
Wolves are an iconic animal and considered sacred to some people. Wolves thus have value because humans experience them this way. Likewise, many reports confirm that wolves are necessary to regulate the rodent prey problem in Alaska. Rather than focusing on the individual, his ethics aim toward the greater, collective good. In this way, Norton hopes that over-consumptive felt preferences might be overruled by considered preferences. How do we determine who this person is? Presumably in terms of the earth there will be more than one person managing such a large planet.
How do these people create an objective value system that builds on global considered preferences, while encouraging humans to uphold obligations to the natural world?
To watch an informative clip about Aerial Hunting in Alaska, click below:.
Norton’s Weak Anthropocentrism
Environmental Ethics 6 2 Abstract The assumption that environmental ethics must be nonanthropocentric in order to be adequate is mistaken. There are two forms of anthropocentrism, weak and strong, and weak anthropocentrism is adequate to support an environmental ethic. Environmental ethics is, however, distinctive vis-a-vis standard British and American ethical systems because, in order to be adequate, it must be nonindividualistic. Environmental ethics involves decisions on two levels, one kind of which differs from usual decisions affecting individual fairness while the other does not. The latter, called allocational decisions, are not reducible to the former and govern the use of resources across extended time.
Norton and Weak Anthropocentrism
Norton claims that many believe that a rejection of anthropocentrism correlates to the creation of a distinctive set of environmental ethics . However, he feels that this is untrue, as the argument of individualism vs. Norton believes that too much emphasis has been placed on the anthropocentrism debate in regards to environment ethics . He feels that the bases for the argument of anthropocentrism are too vague, and it is difficult to say what truly counts as human interest when analyzing the theory . Norton went on to describe two forms of anthropocentrism, the first being a strongly anthropocentric view that entails a a theory which has values that are supported by references to felt preferences of humans . Essentially, weak anthropocentrism allows for value systems to be judged if they exploit nature, while strong anthropocentrism ignores felt preferences of an individual, and therefore takes away the possibility of criticism of one who exploits nature . Overall, Norton believes that a distinct set of environmental ethics can only be developed when one adopts the values of weak anthropocentrism, as its principles do not have the same exploitive tendencies of strong anthropocentrism .
Weak Anthropocentrism: The Alternative to Biocentrism