PHL273 Monday September 19 , 2011th
THE ECONOMICS OF ANTHROPOCENTRISM
In the past decade, fishermen noticed a decrease in the population of fairy penguin.
The fishermen noticed that there were foxes that would swim and capture the
penguins and kill them. There was up to 100 penguins dead each day. However,
they could not get rid of the foxes.
A farmer suggested using a special species of dogs that this farmer used to protect
his chickens. They were worried to introduce dogs to the island. This type of dog
was trained to protect species especially chickens.
The two dogs that were introduced to the island first went and peed around the
island and this let the foxes know that there were two big dogs on the island. After
the dogs were introduced to the island, the fairy penguin’s population stabilized.
Do these penguins really matter? And Why?
Baxter states that people are selfish. Flora and Fauna are not in themselves
intrinsically valuable but they have instrumental value.
Why do the penguins matter? They don’t matter in themselves. We will not save
them because they have some intrinsic value. If we do save them, the only reason
is because for some reason they matter TO people. The penguins are important just
as much as they are valuable to the human beings for some reason. Morally
speaking they only matter because people enjoy seeing the penguins walk across
Therefore we’re not doing it for the penguins but for us.
When you are trying to make a decision of what matters, there is some intrinsic
value that the penguins possess. What pulls our decision to save these penguins is
whether or not they are important to the human’s.
Optimal Pollution – in order to make a decision on what is the right to thing to do, I
cannot have a world that is perfect; a world, for example, with no pollution at all
This argument becomes a case that becomes an economic theory that balances the
costs and benefits.
Environmental problems are economic problems.
Baxter implements an issue of quantification – the issue of weighing cost and
Tradeoffs – no solution is a perfect solution, you make a solution that maximizes the
good and minimizes the bad – there is a trade off that occurs in a way that seeks
the optimal solution PHL273 Monday September 19 , 2011th
Optimal – “just those amounts that attend a sensible organized society thoughtfully
and knowledgeably pursuing the greatest possible satisfaction for its human
Cost – forgone opportunities (e.g. penguins over school programs?...)
...is the view that free markets can serve all genuine environmental values.
“Free Markets”: “rule-governed institutions for the exchange of goods and services,
in which consumer demand significantly influences the nature, quantity and price of
what is produced.”
Environmental goods are actually economic goods.
Two Approaches to Economic Anthropocentrism
1. Cornucopian – unlimited resources
• The assumption of finiteness is responsible for misleading people
• Shortage of resources makes people become innovative (i.e. recycling)
• Scarcity and technological advance influence one another and will
drive humans forward
• Without a definition, something cannot be finite
• Finite is defined by you and what you constitute as your definitions
about certain things
• Humans will work it out and develop a new technology to preserve
2. Malthusian – resources are finite
• As a rational human being you try to maximize your gain
• What is the utility to ME? – utilitarian point of view
• Human’s are selfish and will look out for themselves individually
• Any common resource that we share, we try to make the most of, in
terms of our own selfish need
• People are so selfish, that the commons (such as air, forests, fisheries)
become a place where individuals try to get as much as they possibly
can for their own gain
• SOLUTION – mutual coercion/mutually agreed upon
• Put laws in place because we are rational, social beings
• Regulations come into play here (pollution permits, etc), in order
to protect our s