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School of Environment
Mairi Mac Donald

ENV 222 Feb 9 AnthropocentrismLecture format1 Definitions Anthropocentrism defined in reading p 179 as the assumption of human selfimportance in the larger scheme of things contains two elements empiricalunderstanding that humans are different from other animals moral normativebelieve that humans should dominate natureThus the concept contains two different elements 1 separation of the human and nonhuman and 2 domination of nature by humans Since subject is ideas inherent in anthropocentrism and their influence as a cause of the environmental problem we need to define ideas ideadefined by social scientists as beliefor mental process in mind of the individual human beingbut also something held in common because the idea is shared by a number of individuals in that case the idea exists outside the individual something like a computing cloudas such the idea can be considered an entity in its own right acting as a causal variable because it influences human behaviour See Douglas Mary 1986 How Institutions Think Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press for the view that ideas in the form of institutions rules not corporate bodies have a life of their own beyond that of the humans in whose minds they exist2 Categories of ideasideas used for understanding of causalityeg religion empirical science common sense ideas as norms or rulesalso referred to as institutions codifiedgiven formal legal formeg a countrys constitution informal eg dress codes assumptions taken for granted taken as true for the sake of argument the starting point for logical thought that which is not examinedThe unexamined assumption eg economic growth is natural and good it is impossible to imagine a world without economic growth has power precisely because it is unexamined and therefore not subject to attack from conflicting ideas 3 How do ideas influence behaviour causalitybehaviour is based on expected consequences of the action prediction norms1 because enforced eg by police2 because internalized no need for enforcement1
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