Addressing Anthropocentrism in Nonhuman Ethics: Evolution, Morality, and Nonhuman Moral Beings

Dissertation, University of Birmingham (2017)
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Abstract

In this thesis I put forward a new definition of anthropocentrism based on a thorough overview of use in the literature and via analogy with other centrisms, such as androcentrism. I argue that thus clarified anthropocentrism is unjustified and results in problems for nonhuman animals and that any nonhuman ethic should wish to avoid. I then demonstrate how important nonhuman ethics theories are anthropocentric on this definition, and do not address anthropocentrism, in a way that results in these problems for nonhumans. I therefore propose a nonhuman ethic that aims to be less anthropocentric. I do this by first considering morality in light of evolution and second by looking at nonhuman moral codes. I draw upon both of these to set out a less anthropocentric nonhuman ethic and show why this account is at least as viable as, and less problematic than, the current theories as well as outlining its beneficial implications for nonhuman animals and the field. I conclude that anthropocentrism and approaching nonhuman ethics in the manner I have is therefore important for considering nonhuman issues, and that the theory I have put forward is advantageous

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Andrew Woodhall
University of Birmingham (PhD)

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