Anthropocentrism vs non-anthropocentrism: a pragmatic approach

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A world without humans would have no value whatsoever
The question of the value of nature has been one of the most controversial discussions among environmentalists; some of them argue that we have to preserve nature because we use it and we need it in order to survive, while others believe that the value ofnature is not because of human needs but rather because nature has value in and of itself. But, what are the implications of these ways of thinking? Does it truly matter to think one way or the other if both sides have the same final objective of preserving nature? And, which way of thinking is the most effective when we want to make policies?
Bryan Norton (1991, p. 237-243) has proposed the“Convergence Hypothesis” in which he claims that both anthropocentric and non-anthropocentric ethics recommend the same responsible behaviour and policies. Hence, it does not matter which approach we take, because the result will be the same. If that were the case, the discussion of the value of the world without humans is not important from a pragmatic viewpoint and should be discussed simply as aphilosophical issue. However, whether the Hypothesis is true or not, it is also important to determine which approach is better and more realistic when we want to make environmental.
In this essay, I will discuss the affirmation that “ a world without humans would have no value whatsoever” from a pragmatic perspective; therefore, I will analyse the implications of Anthropocentrism and nonanthropocentrism in environmental policies and I will survey if the Convergence Hypothesis applies in a case study and which of the theories of value are more likely to apply in real life.
With this aim firstly I will explain the four theories of value; Then, I shall study the practical implication of each approach in one study case in the North of La Paz Bolivia: and Finally, I will explain the conclusionsof the study.
The way that the non-human world is valued can be characterized on two levels: the first level is the way that nature is valued, while the second level is the perspective from which nature is valued.
The combination of these two levels gives us different categories in which nature can be valued. In this section I shall explain the concepts of eachcategory in order to study the practical implications of each one in a selected case study.
What is the value of nature? Regarding this question Callicott (2002) says, “We subjects value objects in one or both of at least two ways – instrumentally or intrinsically – between which there is no middle term.” (p. 16)
Many authors, such as Prior (1998),Callicott (2002) and Norton (2008), see value as a verb, and within this viewpoint, value is assigned to an object by a ‘valuer’ who is considered the subject, and instrumental and intrinsic may be adverbs. Thus one may value some things instrumentally or intrinsically.
When someone values something instrumentally, the object is valued as a means, something that classical economists called thevalue-in-use (Smith, 1776). For instance, a car has an instrumental value because it is a means of transportation. From this standpoint, we would value nature and thus need to preserve it because it fills one of our needs.
Opponents of the instrumental value of nature claim that unlike machines whose purposes or functions are determined by humans to serve humans ends, living beings, such as thosethat make up nature, have ends, goals or purposes of their own. Therefore, they have a value not merely as means but as ends (Johnson 1991, McCauley 2006, Owens 2008 and Callicot 2008). Moreover, some of them believe that intrinsic value can be defined as the antonym of instrumental value; in other words, intrinsic value and non-instrumental value are two names for the same thing.
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