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Title: Ecocentrism  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Green politics, Environmental movement, Technocentrism, Biocentrism (ethics), Environmentalism
Collection: Environmentalism, Green Politics, Philosophical Concepts
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


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Ecocentrism (; from Greek: οἶκος oikos, "house" and κέντρον kentron, "center") is a term used in ecological political philosophy to denote a nature-centered, as opposed to human-centered, system of values. The justification for ecocentrism usually consists in an ontological belief and subsequent ethical claim. The ontological belief denies that there are any existential divisions between human and non-human nature sufficient to claim that humans are either (a) the sole bearers of intrinsic value or (b) possess greater intrinsic value than non-human nature. Thus the subsequent ethical claim is for an equality of intrinsic value across human and non-human nature, or ‘biospherical egalitarianism’.[1] According to Stan Rowe:[2]



  • Origin of term 1
  • Background 2
  • Relationship to other similar philosophies 3
    • Anthropocentrism 3.1
    • Technocentrism 3.2
    • Biocentrism 3.3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7

Origin of term

The ecocentric ethic was conceived by

  • Ecospheric Ethics
  • Marginalization of Ecocentrism

External links

  • Bosselmann, K. 1999. When Two Worlds Collide: Society and Ecology. ISBN 0-9597948-3-2
  • Eckersley, R. 1992. Environmentalism and Political Theory: Toward an Ecocentric Approach. State University of New York Press.
  • Hettinger, Ned and Throop, Bill 1999. Refocusing Ecocentrism: De-emphasizing Stability and Defending Wilderness. Environmental Ethics 21: 3-21.

Further reading

  1. ^ Political Dictionary.. Retrieved 13 June 2009.
  2. ^ Stan Rowe, biographic profile.
  3. ^ Rowe, Stan J. (1994). "Ecocentrism: the Chord that Harmonizes Humans and Earth." The Trumpeter 11(2): 106-107.
  4. ^ Rowe Stan J. "Ecocentrism and Traditional Ecological Knowledge."
  5. ^ Leopold, A. 1949. A sand county almanac. New York: Oxford University Press.
  6. ^ Lindenmeyer, D. & Burgman, M. 2005. Practical conservation biology. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia. ISBN 0-643-09089-4
  7. ^ Booth, D.E. 1992. The economics and ethics of old growth forests. Environmental Ethics 14: 43-62.
  8. ^ Deep Ecology for the 21st Century, Readings on the Philosophy and Practice of the New Environmentalism, ed. George Sessions, Shambhala, Boston and London, 1995.
  9. ^ "Ecocentrism and the Deep Ecology Platform".
  10. ^ "environmentalism". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Retrieved 13 June 2009. 
  11. ^ Ecocentrism at
  12. ^ Naess, Arne 1973. "The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movement". Inquiry 16: 95-100
  13. ^ see Rowe
  14. ^ a b "Earth, ecocentrism and Technocentrism".
  15. ^ "Ecocentrism". The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. 2009. Retrieved 13 June 2009.


See also

The distinction between biocentrism and ecocentrism is ill-defined. Ecocentrism recognizes Earth's interactive living and non-living systems rather than just the Earth's organisms (biocentrism) as central in importance.[15] The term has been used by those advocating "left biocentrism", combining deep ecology with an "anti-industrial and anti-capitalist" position (David Orton et al.).


Ecocentrism is also contrasted with technocentrism (meaning values centred on technology) as two opposing perspectives on attitudes towards human technology and its ability to affect, control and even protect the environment. Ecocentrics, including "deep green" ecologists, see themselves as being subject to nature, rather than in control of it. They lack faith in modern technology and the bureaucracy attached to it. Ecocentrics will argue that the natural world should be respected for its processes and products, and that low impact technology and self-reliance is more desirable than technological control of nature.[14] Technocentrics, including imperialists, have absolute faith in technology and industry and firmly believe that humans have control over nature. Although technocentrics may accept that environmental problems do exist, they do not see them as problems to be solved by a reduction in industry. Rather, environmental problems are seen as problems to be solved using science. Indeed, technocentrics see that the way forward for developed and developing countries and the solutions to our environmental problems today lie in scientific and technological advancement.[14]


Ecocentrism is taken by its proponents to constitute a radical challenge to long-standing and deeply rooted anthropocentric attitudes in Western culture, science, and politics. Anthropocentrism is alleged to leave the case for the protection of non-human nature subject to the demands of human utility, and thus never more than contingent on the demands of human welfare. An ecocentric ethic, by contrast, is believed to be necessary in order to develop a non-contingent basis for protecting the natural world. Critics of ecocentrism have argued that it opens the doors to an anti-humanist morality that risks sacrificing human well-being for the sake of an ill-defined ‘greater good’.[11] Deep ecologist Arne Naess has identified anthropocentrism as a root cause of the ecological crisis, human overpopulation, and the extinctions of many non-human species.[12] Others point to the gradual historical realization that humans are not the centre of all things, that “A few hundred years ago, with some reluctance, Western people admitted that the planets, Sun and stars did not circle around their abode. In short, our thoughts and concepts though irreducibly anthropomorphic need not be anthropocentric.”[13]


Relationship to other similar philosophies

[10] Environmental thought and the various branches of the environmental movement are often classified into two intellectual camps: those that are considered anthropocentric, or “human-centred,” in orientation and those considered biocentric, or “life-centred.” This division has been described in other terminology as “shallow” ecology versus “deep” ecology and as “technocentrism” versus “ecocentrism". Ecocentrism can be seen as one stream of thought within


[9], which considers humans as the center of the universe and the pinnacle of all creation, is a difficult opponent for ecocentrism.anthropocentrism which points out that [8]

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