Biocentrism (“life centered”) is an ethical perspective holding that all life deserves equal moral consideration or has equal moral standing. While elements of biocentrism can be found in several religious traditions, it was not until the late decades of the 20th century that philosophical ethics in the Western tradition addressed this topic in a systematic manner.

Much of the history of environmental ethics can be understood in terms of an expanding range of moral standing. Traditional Western ethics has always been anthropocentric, meaning that only presently living human beings deserve moral consideration. As environmental issues such as nuclear waste disposal, population growth, and resource depletion came to the fore, many ethicists argued that moral standing should be extended to include future generations of human beings. The ...

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