“Natural state” and “social responsibility of property” as responses to the eco-crisis

    17 Aug 2021

    The world is almost entirely changed by humanity. Even in Antarctica, you will find microplastics and chemicals, the consequences of pollution. Climate change is taking place on all continents.

    We’re on the verge of collapse, and the 2020-2021 lockdowns are just his rehearsal.

    Fossil fuels will run out, and it will take hundreds of years to restore these resources. Oil and natural gas will be depleted in half a century; coal will be enough for a little over a hundred years. Probable new deposits of resources are uncertain, complex, dangerous, and expensive to develop. We have time to give up gradually and prepare the regions dependent on these fuels for a painless transition.

    Amid the chaos that threatens to undermine the foundations of an outwardly prosperous high-tech civilization, the question arises – what to preserve first?

    Let me explain to you one answer to this, which sounds like “ecocentric.” In other words, natural ecosystems need to be preserved first.

    Individual rare animals, of course, also need to be rescued. But ecosystems are the key to survival. Endangered animals are just a part of the life mosaic.

    Environmental protection in terms of economics

    We wrote in detail about ecosystem services in this author’s column. This concept is one of the best ways to reach business people and politicians. Using it, scientists show in numbers that the Earth’s ecosystems are invisible but effective mechanisms that save financial numbers with many zeros to humanity and directly ensure our survival.

    With the concept of ecosystem services, modern environmental protection is no longer hippie-style. In the language of economics, it shows that humanity’s path to sustainable living lies through the preservation of ecosystems.

    Definition of biocentrism

    Paul Taylor, one of the first promoters of the idea of ​​biocentrism, called it a “respect for nature.” Biocentrism encourages a person to lead a life that does not infringe on the interests and well-being of all living beings. Taylor notes:

    · people are members of the community of life on an equal footing with other species, and have the same status with them;

    · the biotic community consists of a system of interdependence between all members, both physically and in their relationships;

    · each organism has its purpose (teleo in Greek) and meaning of existence, which is initially “good” or “valuable”;

    · humans are not superior to other beings in their inner characteristics. This statement describes the revolutionary nature of biocentrism: we, humanity, are not the “crown of creation.”

    Source: Taylor, Paul (1986) (in English). Respect for Nature: A Theory of Environmental Ethics. Princeton University Press. pp. 99. ISBN 978-0691022505).

    Followers of biocentrism support biodiversity, animal rights, and environmentalism.

    Definition of ecocentrism

    Ecocentrism advocates the need to spread moral and ecological principles from individual living beings to ecosystems. Individual ecosystems, from this point of view, are more valuable than individual animals and even humans.

    Plants, animals, and landscapes form the ecological community. They cannot exist without each other and form a common whole, which is the main object for conservation.

    “Ecocentrism goes beyond biocentrism (ethics that sees inherent value in all living things) by including environmental systems as wholes and their abiotic aspects. It also goes beyond zoocentrism (seeing value in animals) on account of explicitly including flora and other organisms, as well as their ecological contexts. Given that life relies on geology and geomorphology to sustain it, and that ‘geodiversity’ also has intrinsic value, the broader term ‘ecocentrism’ is the more inclusive concept and value, and hence most appropriate,” the authors of Statement of Commitment to Ecocentrism state.

    According to American researcher Frederick Kaufman, a professor of philosophy, ecocentrism is a “radical departure from everyday ethics” because it questions the importance of human well-being. In contrast, ethics has traditionally been preoccupied with human well-being.

    The main works of ecocentrism and biocentrism authors contain reflections on human wisdom and common sense rather than scientific constructions. Humans are seen by them only as a part of nature, which is a value in itself (as well as other beings and inanimate objects, such as landscapes).

    Ecocentrism and governance systems

    “Governance systems – including our legal, economic and political systems – must recognize the interdependence of ecological and social systems and be transformed to respect the rights of nature to exist, thrive and evolve,” state Ecological Citizen authors.

    The idea of ​​”state in nature” came along with the concepts of “social state” and “rule of law.”

    The development of humankind has a specific feature: it occurs through the physical distribution of its territory on the planet. The larger the globe’s population, the smaller is the number of other living beings on the Earth. This law, formulated by Russian geochemist Vladimir Vernadsky, shows that humanity has so far evolved through the simple displacement, destruction of inhuman creatures on Earth through the dominance of humans in the natural balance.

    And the modern state has become an effective tool for this imbalance. It created its own balance, economic, which goes against the natural connections that have developed over the planet’s geological history. Humanity’s influence on the nature of the Earth from the point of view of this history is insignificant, but there is a limit to such impact.

    German philosopher Klaus-Michael Meyer-Abich argues that the development of the modern rule of law has resulted in two major crises: the social crisis of the nineteenth century and the current environmental crisis. “Everyone seeks only his own well-being, and there is no common will, so the well-being of all is achieved by the destruction of living conditions, and therefore at the expense of all,” he wrote in 1990. Therefore, Meyer-Abich proposes to include in the integrity that the state should protect “the whole world: animals, plants, landscapes, water bodies, climate.”

    The interests of this whole are no less important than the interests of individuals. The need to maintain a “balance between human consumer interests and the self-worth of the surrounding extra-human life” has become urgent. This life is not a simple resource for the economy. And this fact must be realized by both the state and business circles, in general, every citizen of modern states.

    Society’s attitude toward property can be modified, Meyer-Abich states. It is necessary to take “a step from the social responsibility of the property to its respective responsibilities to nature.” Meyer-Abich compares the ruthless exploitation of workers resulting from the capitalists’ desire for profit with the no less ruthless exploitation of nature and concludes that these exploits are equivalent. Therefore, “the welfare state must also become a natural state, social duty must correspond to natural duty.” Thus, one of Meyer-Abich’s main conclusions is: “Property in society and in nature should be used not as desired, but only in responsibility to both sides of the whole – the human community and the natural community.”

    Meyer-Abich developed in his work “Revolution for nature: from the environment to the connatural world” such concepts as “nature-state” or “state in nature,” along with the concepts of “social state” and “rule of law,” which already existed before and now have become generally accepted.

    Today, at the epicenter of the pandemic and climate change, it is clear that only “natural states” will survive in the future.

    You may read about the definition of biocentrism here.

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