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Addressing anthropocentrism in nonhuman ethics: evolution, morality, and nonhuman moral beings

Woodhall, Andrew Christopher (2017)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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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.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Bortolotti, LIsa and Widdows, Heather
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Department of Philosophy
Subjects:B Philosophy (General)
BJ Ethics
GN Anthropology
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:7186
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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