The Biophilia Hypothesis and Anthropocentric Environmentalism

Environmental Ethics 25 (3):227-246 (2003)
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Abstract

Much anthropocentric environmental argument is limited by a narrow conception of how humans can benefit from nature. E. O. Wilson defends a more robust anthropocentric environmentalism based on a broader understanding of these benefits. At the center of his argument is the biophilia hypothesis according to which humans have an evolutionarily crafted, aesthetic and spiritual affinity for nature. However,the “biophilia hypothesis” covers a variety of claims, some modest and some more extreme. Insofar as we have significant evidence for biophilia, it favors modest versions which do not support a particularly robust anthropocentric environmental ethic. A significantly more robust environmental ethic requires the most extreme version of the biophilia hypothesis, for which there is the least evidence.

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