Biodiversity and ethics - philosophical and theological perspectives

Project: Research

Layman's description

Since the 1992 UN conference in Rio, preservation of biodiversity has become an increasingly important goal within environmental politics. In spite of this, the ethical conflicts to which this goal gives rise are seldom recognised. The purpose of this project is to critically examine philosophical and theological theories of how these conflicts should be handled.

This project has the following purposes: 1) to analyse which moral judgement are found in Swedish political documents on biodiversity and to clarify which ethical conflicts are created by the goal to preserve biodiversity
2) to critically examine the ethical guidelines and principles for how such conflicts should be handled which are found in the philosophical and theological debate on environmental ethics.
This project pays special attention to the moral relationship between humans and nature. In the ethical debate there are different viewpoints on this relationship which can be categorized as either anthropocentric or non-anthropocentric. Anthropocentrism denotes in this context the standpoint that only humans have moral status, i.e. that it is only humans we should take account of for their own sake, while non-anthropocentrism denotes the standpoint that some natural objects also have moral status. Non-anthropocentrism can in its turn be divided into sentientism (sometimes also called zoocentrism), biocentrism and ecocentrism. According to sentientism all sentient animals have moral status, while biocentrism assigns moral status to all living beings, including plants. Ecocentrism is the position that collective entities such as species and ecosystems also have moral status.
Besides critically analyzing the standpoints mentioned above, this project also discusses how virtue ethics can contribute to the development of an ethic for biodiversity preservation
Effective start/end date2006/01/012010/12/31