Contextualism and Norton’s Convergence Hypothesis

Steverson, Brian K.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 17/2 (1995), pages 135-150

Toward Unity among Environmentalists is Bryan Norton’s most developed effort to surmount the frequently intractable debate between anthropocentrists and nonanthropocentrists. Norton argues that the basic axiological differences between the two positions have become irrelevant at the level of policy formation. His thesis is that the two camps converge when dealing with practical goals and aims for environmental management. I argue that Norton’s approach falls significantly short of establishing such a convergence because of the overall methodological framework for policy formation that he defends. The key problem with that framework is that it fails to provide for the degree of species protection most suitable to the nonanthropocentrist position.