Sunday, June 5, 2011

Biocentric Equality

2 things:
1) I have decided that I shall endeavor to make at least 1 blog post per month, because my blog posting schedule is exceedingly erratic.
2) It seems that June is going to be a very busy month for me, so I imagine I probably won't think of something to complain about in form of an "intelligent" opinion. As such, I had the thought "Hmm, I'm a poli-sci major. I have to do plenty of writings. Why don't I just post one of my essay assignments or something?" As is, I imagine an essay would be too long of a post, so I decided to post a "short writing" homework assignment from my Ethics class I took this past Spring semester. As such, the pages I am quoting come from the book I had to buy for my Ethics class (Ethics in Contemporary Society, or something of the sort), as does the question.

bit of an edit: thought it might be worthwhile to throw in a definition of what biocentric equality is. Simply put, it's the belief that all things on earth are of equal inherent value. So that means that the earth, the animals, and the humans are all equal in value, and we should treat animals and the earth with respect and honor because they are of equal value to us.

No that is not a textbook definition. That is simply me summarizing what I remember it to be.

Hollie -------
Homework #3

“Do you accept the principle of biocentric equality? Why or why not?” (p. 122)

I find that I agree with certain tenets of biocentric equality and disagree with others. To start with the negatives, my main contention with the theory is the claim that everything in nature is inherently equal, or “equal in intrinsic worth” (p. 119). The belief seems to be that humans are not superior to nature or animals. We are all of equal worth in that we all deserve proper care and consideration and should not be maltreated or mishandled. In other words, “…all things in the biosphere have an equal right to live and blossom and to reach their own individual forms of unfolding and self-realization within the larger Self-realization” (p. 119). As a Christian, I believe humans are of more worth than anything else in the universe. Genesis tells us God gave Adam dominion over the earth and the animals (Genesis 1:26). Humans are superior to animals and the earth. God created us as such. The earth and animals are certainly of worth to God, but like any artist, He places more worth on some of His creations than others. Humans are His masterpiece, and animals and the earth are simply the backdrop. This means that humans are to be given more consideration than the earth. Our comfort and security is more important than that of animals, and the earth exists not simply to exist, but as a home for humans. This contrasts with the biocentric idea that no thing on earth is more important than the other.

On the positive side, I do agree with the statement that “…if we harm the rest of Nature then we are harming ourselves” (p. 119). My agreement comes from a mixture of Thomist and Utilitarian tendencies. As far as utilitarianism goes, we only have one earth to live on, and it would be in my best interests to keep this one earth running. Harming nature to the point of uselessness is harming myself. As far as natural law goes, Aquinas says natural law is the actualization of the reasoning of God buried within our conscious. God is not an unwise god, and He knows destroying the earth would be of no benefit to humans. As such, He instilled a natural inclination within us to want to preserve the earth. It is not natural for humans to destroy that which sustains them.

I also feel no obligation to care for earth except out of a feeling of respect for God’s creation. It has nothing to do with feeling like I am in some sort of harmony with a non-sentient earth. In sum, I will not destroy earth because 1) I need somewhere to live and 2) God created it, so I respect it.

The statement that “…we should live with minimum rather than maximum impact on other species and on the Earth in general” (p. 119) creates mixed feelings within me. I tend toward agreeing with the statement, but not because I agree with the biocentric equality ideals. I agree because I think it benefits humans to live frugally. Once more, it will help to preserve the earth, and it is in all humans’ best interests to preserve that which they live on. To destroy the earth is akin to purposefully burning down one’s home without first finding a new home to live in.

One of my teacher's notes: "I, too, share your anthropocentrism! 10/10"

So apparently I'm an anthropocentrist.

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