Human Relationships with the Natural World

            The anthropocentric approach is criticized for "limiting values to the human realm," for being biased toward the nonhuman world, and for its failure "to provide a satisfactory basis for a moral philosophy of ecological obligation" because it is concerned with human self-interest (Lecture). These are the claims of supporters of the deep ecology perspective, who believe that intrinsic value should be extended to all of nature. In this essay, I argue that the claims of the deep ecology approach are wrong and I will put forth a defense for anthropocentrism.

             Before anything else, I will give the definitions of intrinsic and instrumental values and nature. An intrinsic value is "the worth a thing has in an end of itself." These values are good for their own sake. Examples of these values would be love and beauty. An instrumental value is the "worth a thing has an instrument to achieve a goal or end." (Lecture) Money would be an example of an instrumental value. Having money will allow a person the achieve the goal of a life of leisure. Lastly, nature means everything in our environment-the soil, the climate, and all living things.

             Anthropocentrism maintains that only human beings have intrinsic value and that nonhuman animals and the rest of nature only have instrumental value (Lecture). On the other hand, deep ecology argues that we should see the whole ecosystem as having intrinsic value. However, this claim of deep ecology is groundless because there is no useful purpose in attributing intrinsic value to non sentient beings (Lecture). Furthermore, Aldo Leopold, a proponent of deep ecology, writes in his Land Ethic, " . . . a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it." (Text, p. #478) In essence, he suggests that humans are equal to everything in nature. .

             However, we are not equal to everything in nature. I will support this statement with several reasons.

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