Muddled Facts and Values: Positivism, Egoism, and Anthropocentrism in the Anthropocene

In: Society & Animals
Francisco J. Santiago-Ávila Carnivore Coexistence Lab, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI USA

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I review biologist Chris D. Thomas’s book (2017) Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature is Thriving in an Age of Extinction and discuss its exposition and prescriptions. Thomas presents a fantastic exposition of the contemporary scientific literature documenting the biological gains mediated by human impacts on the nonhuman world. However, his prescriptions for a conservation ethic leave much to be desired. Thomas employs a philosophically narrow, positivist, and egoist approach to what is relevant when dealing with other sentient, sapient, and often social nonhuman beings. This culminates in an explicitly anthropocentric ethic that dismisses our moral obligations to nonhumans, both as individuals and collectives.

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