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Browsing by Subject "ihmiskeskeisyys"

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  • Tiisala, Katja (2022)
    Sustainability is a normative concept embedding ethical commitments. A central ethical issue in the sustainability debate and sustainability science regards moral standing. Moral standing is a philosophical concept that means that a being matters morally for their own sake and that there are direct duties owed to the being. It is widely accepted in contemporary ethics that, in addition to humans, at least some sentient nonhuman animals have moral standing. However, the dominant academic and political discourse of sustainability has hitherto focused only on the moral claims of humans without a critical examination of this anthropocentrism. In anthropocentrism, a view of moral standing, only humans have moral standing or they have a much higher moral standing than any nonhumans. Animal and environmental ethicists have questioned anthropocentrism through philosophical arguments. Nevertheless, the academic discourse of sustainability has been disconnected from the philosophical research on moral standing. There is, thus, a research gap in examining moral standing within sustainability science by drawing also on ethical research. This master’s thesis integrates the two distinct fields of knowledge, that is, sustainability science and ethical research on moral standing. The aim is to answer the following research questions: (1) What kind of anthropocentric and non-anthropocentric conceptions of sustainability are there in sustainability literature? (2) What kind of conceptions of sustainability ensue from the main philosophical views of moral standing? (3) How plausible are the different anthropocentric and non-anthropocentric conceptions of sustainability? The thesis applies the philosophical method for investigating the plausibility of alternative views. With animal ethical arguments, I defend the plausibility of a sentiocentric and unitarian conception of sustainability that considers the interests of all sentient beings equally. Also, I present a typology of the main anthropocentric and non-anthropocentric conceptions of sustainability based on philosophical literature on moral standing. My typology characterises the key features of what I call the strong variety of anthropocentric sustainability, the weak variety of anthropocentric sustainability, sentiocentric sustainability, biocentric sustainability and ecocentric sustainability. In addition, this research employs interdisciplinary literature related to the topic and reviews the anthropocentric and non-anthropocentric conceptions of sustainability in sustainability literature. Based on my analysis, I contend that the dominant conceptions of sustainability maintain anthropocentric speciesism, that is, discrimination according to species classification within an anthropocentric worldview. This bias is present, for example, in the conceptions of sustainability of the Brundtland Report, the United Nations’ Agenda 2030, the planetary boundaries framework as well as IPCC reports examined in this thesis. Some non-anthropocentric conceptions of sustainability are starting to emerge in academic discourses: interspecies sustainability, posthuman sustainability, ecocentric sustainability, multispecies sustainability, what I call multicriterial sustainability and defences of the animal ethical dimensions of sustainability. Hitherto, the discourse of sustainability has, still, rarely questioned anthropocentric speciesism. I argue that the anthropocentric conceptions of sustainability lack plausibility for five reasons. Firstly, it is morally wrong to engage in speciesist discrimination. It is wrong to disregard sentient nonhuman animals’ interests and equal duties owed to these creatures in the context of sustainability. Secondly, anthropocentric speciesism is connected to discrimination against certain animalised and marginalised humans, such as indigenous peoples. Thirdly, normative claims require ethical justification, which makes it unacceptable to assume anthropocentrism without critical examination. Sustainability science should consider ethical research on moral standing and aim at overcoming the speciesist bias through critical reflection. Fourthly, from a psychological perspective, it is valuable to oppose oppressive systems that, according to research by Melanie Joy, distance humans from reality and their authentic experience. Fifthly, the sentiocentric equality of all sentient beings protects environment and wellbeing by opposing the animal industry. Also the biocentric and ecocentric conceptions of sustainability lack plausibility, despite their non-anthropocentrism, as only sentient beings have interests. I conclude that there is a duty to embrace the sentiocentric and unitarian conception of sustainability that commits to the equality of all sentient beings, which eliminates discrimination. This conclusion entails a duty to transform the paradigm of sustainability science and the discourse of sustainability. In future research, it is essential to further develop this sentiocentric conception of sustainability, examine its possible challenges and how societies and the academic world could implement it.