Ecophilosophy is a set of philosophies interested in environment, nature and animals. Yet, though the term ecophilosophy is coined recently, the ideas about nature can be traced back to ancient Greece
According to Aristotle a human, a creature with higher level of consciousness, has a right to use animals and nature as he will, for his own good. In the Middle Ages people thought nature was created by God and thus people should respect nature. This view changed alongside the secularization of Enlightment. God was excluded from the equation and finally the Industrial Revolution gave means to control nature. In the wake of capitalism nature was diminished into a commodity.
Nowadays we recognize many risks threating our lives and the state of nature. Global warming and risks alike have risen theories that try to perceive moral relation between man and nature.
According to utilism
nature has no other meaning but to be a source of human wealth
. Utilists believe that men have right to use nature as they will and development of sciences will solve potential problems like pollution
A man is in the center of humanism. But instead of material wealth humanism advocates intellectual and ethical development. Thus we have to maintain the respect towards nature. The exploitation of nature is strongly discouraged.
The goal of mystism is unity of man and nature. Mystism is very close to animism. However, the man comes first and nature, although almost sacred, may only be helpful for human enlightment.
Biocentric thinking does not view human as a higher species. The theory says that all animals, including homo sapiens
, are equal. At least all animals have intrisic value
. A hardcore view is called vitalism
. However, there are varieties.
An advocate of specism thinks that human is more important than other species but other animals are valuable too. A hardcore biocentrist would blame a specist being a racist!
Animal rights were popularized by Peter Singer. His main point is that we must not hurt animals. There has been a lot of debate if we should not hurt any animals or just those that definitely can feel pain i.e. animals that have nervous system similar to humans. At this time it looks like there's a concensus that we should not harm vertebrates.