Non-obligatory anthropocentrism

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 13 (3-4):329-335 (2000)
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David Sztybel has argued that defenders of the moralsignificance of animals have not made an effective case against theirenemy: anthropocentrism. He maintains that they have refuted only``straw'' versions of that view. Sztybel opposes anthropocentrism, butis convinced that it is a much more difficult view to defeat than hasbeen thought. He develops the strongest argument possible for``Obligatory Anthropocentrism'' (OA), defending it against manyobjections. He also holds that OA does not have unpalatable implicationsfor the treatment of average, below average, and mentally challengedhumans. While I agree that Sztybel has done an admirable job ofdefending anthropocentrism, indeed a better job than theanthropocentrists themselves, I argue that his case for OA is subtly butfatally flawed. I also argue that OA does not dodge two very seriouscriticisms concerning its implications for the treatment of certainhuman beings: the charge of invidious perfectionism and the argumentfrom marginal cases. I conclude that the strongest version ofanthropocentrism is, in fact, not strong enough.



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