Dictionary Definition

anthropocentric adj : human-centered; "our anthropocentric view of the world"

User Contributed Dictionary



anthropo- + -centric


  1. Placing humans at the center of something, giving preference to humans above all other considerations.

Extensive Definition

Anthropocentrism (from Greek: άνθρωπος, anthropos, "human being"; and κέντρον, kentron, "center") is the idea that humans are the central concern and that humans must judge all things according to this central concern for humans: Anthropos (the term, like “human”, refers to both men and women) must be considered, looked after and cared for, above all other real, symbolic or imaginary beings.


Anthropocentrism has been posited by some environmentalists, in such books as Confessions of an Eco-Warrior by Dave Foreman and Green Rage by Christopher Manes, as the underlying if unstated reason why humanity dominates and sees the need to "develop" most of the Earth. Anthropocentrism has been identified by these writers and others as a root cause of the ecological crisis, human overpopulation, and extinctions of many non-human species.
Anthropocentrism, or human-centredness, is believed by some to be the central problematic concept in environmental philosophy, where it is used to draw attention to a systematic bias in traditional Western attitudes to the non-human world (Naess 1973). Val Plumwood (1993, 1996) has argued that anthropocentrism plays an analogous role in green theory to androcentrism in feminist theory and ethnocentrism in anti-racist theory. Plumwood calls human-centredness "anthrocentrism" to emphasise this parallel.
Defenders of anthropocentrist views point out that maintenance of a healthy, sustainable environment is necessary for human well-being as opposed for its own sake. The problem with a "shallow" viewpoint is not that it is human centered but that according to William Grey (1993: 473) "What's wrong with shallow views is not their concern about the well-being of humans, but that they do not really consider enough in what that well-being consists. According to this view, we need to develop an enriched, fortified anthropocentric notion of human interest to replace the dominant short-term, sectional and self-regarding conception."
One of the first extended philosophical essays addressing environmental ethics, John Passmore's Man's Responsibility for Nature has been repeatedly criticised by defenders of deep ecology because of its anthropocentrism, often claimed to be constitutive of traditional Western moral thought (see Routley 1980).


Lynn White sees Christianity as the root of the anthropocentric worldview that has caused environmental degradation.


Biocentrism has been proposed as an antonym of anthropocentrism.


  • Grey, W. 1993. 'Anthropocentrism and Deep Ecology' Australiasian Journal of Philosophy 71: 463-475 http://www.uq.edu.au/%7Epdwgrey/pubs/anthropocentrism.html
  • Naess, A. 1973. 'The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movement' Inquiry 16: 95-100
  • Passmore, J. 1974. Man’s Responsibility for Nature London: Duckworth
  • Plumwood, V. 1993. Feminism and the Mastery of Nature London: Routledge
  • Plumwood, V. 1996. 'Androcentrism and Anthrocentrism: Parallels and Politics.' Ethics and the Environment 1
  • Routley, R. and V. 1980. 'Human Chauvinism and Environmental Ethics' in Environmental Philosophy (eds) D.S. Mannison, M. McRobbie and R. Routley. Canberra: ANU Research School of Social Sciences: 96-189
  • White, Lynn Townsend, Jr, "The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis", Science, Vol 155 (Number 3767), March 10, 1967, pp 1203-1207 (html copy http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1969/JASA6-69White.html)

See also

anthropocentric in Czech: Antropocentrismus
anthropocentric in German: Anthropozentrismus
anthropocentric in Spanish: Antropocentrismo
anthropocentric in French: Anthropocentrisme
anthropocentric in Italian: Antropocentrismo
anthropocentric in Hebrew: אנתרופוצנטריות
anthropocentric in Dutch: antropocentrisme
anthropocentric in Norwegian: Antroposentrisme
anthropocentric in Occitan (post 1500): Antropocentrisme
anthropocentric in Polish: Antropocentryzm
anthropocentric in Portuguese: Antropocentrismo
anthropocentric in Russian: Антропоцентризм
anthropocentric in Slovak: Antropocentrizmus
anthropocentric in Slovenian: Antropocentrizem
anthropocentric in Finnish: Ihmiskeskeisyys
anthropocentric in Swedish: Antropocentrism
anthropocentric in Turkish: Antroposantrizm
anthropocentric in Ukrainian: Антропоцентризм
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