The Trouble with Anthropocentric Hubris, with Examples from Conservation

Haydn Washington*, John Piccolo, Erik Gomez-Baggethun, Helen Kopnina, Heather Alberro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Anthropocentrism in Western (modern industrial) society is dominant, goes back hundreds of years, and can rightly be called ‘hubris’. It removes almost all moral standing from the nonhuman world, seeing it purely as a resource. Here, we discuss the troubling components of anthropocentrism: worldview and ethics; dualisms, valuation and values; a psychology of fear and denial; and the idea of philosophical ‘ownership’. We also question whether it is a truly practical (or ethical) approach. We then discuss three troubling examples of anthropocentrism in conservation: ‘New’ conservation; ecosystem services; and the IPBES values assessment. We conclude that anthropocentrism is fuelling the environmental crisis and accelerating extinction, and urge academia to speak out instead for ecocentrism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-299
Number of pages15
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


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