Environmental Ethics. II

  • Maria Beatrice Fisso
  • Elio Sgreccia


After examining the various non-anthropocentric theories in the first part of the paper (cf. Medicina e Morale 1996, 6: 1057-1082), in the second part the authors present the anthropocentric theories which the presupposition that man plays a main role in the natural world derives from.

This means that nature does not have a value in itself, but has only the value which reveals itself in the attributive act of man. This attribution is the cause of any consideration of nature from a moral point of view and it can either be the fruit of a human choice with a constitutional character or else, within a creationist conception, it can became an act of acknowledgement.

As a matter of fact, there are a variety of interpretations of the man-nature relationship within the anthropocentric theories. There is so-called “strong” anthropocentrism which claims the absolute supremacy of man over nature denying any moral character of such a relationship, and “moderate” or “weak” anthropocentrism based on the idea of a duty to defend and preserve nature whith admits a kind of limited moral relevance of nature in its relationship with man.

The teaching of John Paul II also lies within latter form of anthropocentrism, since in the encyclical Centesimus Annus and later in the Evangelium Vitae, he attributes man with the role of the “gardian responsible” for nature because man is superior.



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How to Cite
Fisso, M. B., & Sgreccia, E. (1997). Environmental Ethics. II. Medicina E Morale, 46(1), 57-74. https://doi.org/10.4081/mem.1997.889