Are Humans Superior to Animals and Plants?

Taylor, Paul W.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 6/2 (1984), pages 149-160

Louis G. Lombardi’s arguments in support of the claim that humans have greater inherent worth than other living things provide a clear account of how it is possible to conceive of the relation between humans and nonhumans in this way. Upon examining his arguments, however, it seems that he does not succeed in establishing any reason to believe that humans actually do have greater inherent worth than animals and plants.

In Defense of Biocentrism

Taylor, Paul W.

Environmental Ethics Vol. 5/3 (1983), pages 237-43

Gene Spitler has raised certain objections to my views on the biocentric outlook: (1) that a factual error is involved in the assertion that organisms pursue their own good, (2) that there is an inconsistency in the biocentric outlook, (3) that it is impossible for anyone to adopt that outlook, and (4) that the outlook entails unacceptable moral judgments, for example, that killing insects and wildflowers is as morally reprehensible as killing humans. I reply to each of these points, showing that the biocentric outlook on nature is not only a possible, but also a reasonable world view.

The Ethics of Respect for Nature

Taylor, Paul W.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 3/3 (1981), pages 197-218

I present the foundational structure for a life-centered theory of environmental ethics. The structure consists of three interrelated components. First is the adopting of a certain ultimate moral attitude toward nature, which I call “respect for nature.” Second is a belief system that constitutes a way of conceiving of the natural world and of our place in it. This belief system underlies and supports the attitude in a way that makes it an appropriate attitude to take toward the Earth’s natural ecosystems and their life communities. Third is a system of moral rules and standards for guiding our treatment of those ecosystems and life communities, a set of normative principles which give concrete embodiment or expression to the attitude of respect for nature. The theory set forth and defended here is, I hold, structurally symmetrical with a theory of human ethics based on the principle of respect for persons.