On Avoiding Anthropocentrism and Including Others

Humans are animals; humans are machines. The current academic and popular dialogue on extending the personhood boundary to certain non-human animal species and at the same time to machines/robots reflects a dialectic about how “being human” is defined, about how we perceive our species and ourselves in relation to the environment. While both paths have the potential to improve lives, these improvements differ in substance and in consequence. One route has the potential to broaden the anthropocentric focus within the West and honor interdependence with life systems, while the other affords greater currency to a human-purpose-driven worldview–furthering an unchecked Anthropocene. The broadening of legal personhood rights to life systems is underway with a ruling for dolphins in India, for a river in New Zealand and with Laws of the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia. Many philosophers, ethicists, and ethologists define personhood within the confines of the dominant anthropocentric paradigm, yet alternate eco-centric paradigms offer an inclusive model that may help dismantle the artificial wall between humans and nature. In this paper, I explore these ecocentric paradigms and the implications of an associated worldview for human perceptions, self-awareness, communication, narrative, and research.

Source Link: http://jetpress.org/v24.3/Oriel.pdf