Anthropocentrism in the Anthropocene: Towards an Ostensive Humanism

Environmental Humanities (forthcoming)
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The idea that we must move beyond anthropocentrism to overcome interspecies injustice and environmental collapse is widespread within the environmental humanities. Yet, the concept of anthropocentrism remains ambiguous, and so do some of the arguments raised against it. What exactly should we move beyond and why? The article attempts to answer these questions and clarify the merits and limitations of both anthropocentric and post-anthropocentric views within ethics and ontology. This article proposes that although some implausible and morally problematic forms of anthropocentrism should be denounced, there are other ways in which we must remain anthropocentric. The article disambiguates the concept of anthropocentrism and assesses the key arguments against it, before it goes on to outline a minimal form of anthropocentrism that we call ostensive humanism. Ostensive humanism is compatible with many post-anthropocentric ideas but suggests that the ethical and political project aimed at ending interspecies injustice and the climate crisis inevitably points to human beings as its moral addressees.

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