Re-examining culture/conservation conflict: the view of anthropology of conservation through the lens of environmental ethics

Helen Kopnina
  • Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences, March 2012, Taylor & Francis
  • DOI: 10.1080/1943815x.2011.625951

Culture and conservation: exploring ethics

What is it about?

This article examines environmental ethics theories focused on the division between “anthropocentric” and “ecocentric” approaches in regard to three value bases for environmental concern: self-interest, humanistic altruism, and biospheric altruism.

Why is it important?

The author argues that while applied anthropologists claim to be morally engaged, this engagement rarely supports biospheric altruism. Anthropological advocacy of indigenous rights as well as support for development enterprise on the part of applied anthropologists results in anthropocentric bias in anthropology. While moral engagement may be said to be the mark of applied anthropology, environmental ethics is rarely evoked and moral engagements seem to extend only to humans. On the other hand, constructivist anthropologists often describe environment, nature, or wilderness as social constructions and do not engage with questions of value and rights, resulting in relativism that ignores the urgency of conservation efforts.

Perspectives

Dr Helen Kopnina (Author)
The Hague University of Applied Sciences

While moral engagement may be said to be the mark of applied anthropology, environmental ethics is rarely evoked and moral engagements seem to extend only to humans. On the other hand, constructivist anthropologists often describe environment, nature, or wilderness as social constructions and do not engage with questions of value and rights, resulting in relativism that ignores the urgency of conservation efforts.

Read Publication

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1943815x.2011.625951

The following have contributed to this page: Dr Helen Kopnina