Why I am not a nonanthropocentrist: Callicott and the failure of monistic inherentism

Environmental Ethics 17 (4):341-358 (1995)
I contrast two roles for environmental philosophers—“applied philosophy” and “practical philosophy”—and show that the strategy of applied philosophy encourages an axiological and monistic approach to theory building. I argue that the mission of applied philosophy, and the monistic theory defended by J. Baird Callicott, in particular, tends to separate philosophers and their problems from real management issues because applied philosophers and moral monists insist that theoretical exploration occurs independent of, and prior to, applications in particular situations. This separation of theory and practice suggests that philosophers are likely to be effective in policy discussions only to the degree that they can offer unquestioned theories that adjudicate real problems. Callicott offers his monistic, ontological approach as universal guidance to environmental activists and decision makers, arguing that ecosystems and communities are moral subjects that can “own” their own inherent value. Callicott’s theory, however, faces a crucial, unanswered theoretical dilemma which illustrates the impossibility of the dual task Callicott has set for his theory—to provide a single, ontological unification of ethics under nonanthropocentric holism and to capture the fine nuances of ethical obligations as experienced in varied communities. I also show that monistic assumptions have led to an unfortunate interpretation ofAldo Leopold’s land ethic and that a pluralist and pragmatist direction is likely to provide a more efficacious and theoretically defensible direction for further study of environmental philosophy in a more practical mode
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 13,048
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA
Robin Attfield (2011). Beyond Anthropocentrism. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 69:29-46.
John Hadley (2013). Liberty and Valuing Sentient Life. Ethics and the Environment 18 (1):87-103.
Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

16 ( #116,729 of 1,410,540 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #108,810 of 1,410,540 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.