The Convergence Hypothesis and The Moral Conflicts of Animal Experimentations
The moral rights view (MRV) and utilitarianism have extreme different views on animal experimentations; the former is totally opposed but the latter is supportive provided. Gary Varner thinks it is necessary to find an application to reconcile in MRV and utilitarianism for supporting the ethical legitimacy on animal testing. His idea of consensus and convergence between the two theories is influenced by Bryan Norton’s “the convergence hypothesis”. Simply says is, Bryan is doing environmental ethics, and he found that environmental problems are so often problems of integration; environmentalists appeal to elements of at least seven distinct world-views and a diversity of associated values, but they have been able to trace an emerging consensus regarding desirable environmental policies. The consensus function as an item of faith, guiding plural environmental values and principles search for a rational solution to environmental problems. Varner might consider there is no single moral principle can deal with the issue of animal experimentations, and the issue of animal experimentations need a better ethical value or principle to lead for a rational solution. Then, the convergence hypothesis function might be the solution.
Do Anthropocentrism and Non-anthropocentrism Have Divergent Axiologies?
Anthropocentrism and non-anthropocentrism seem to have opposing axiologies. The former holds that only humans have intrinsic value while the latter holds that nature and non-human animals also have intrinsic value. Most non-anthropocentrists claim that the divergence in axiology between anthropocentrism and non-anthropocentrism will cause a divergence in the environmental policies that each view recommends. I summarise the basic argument here thus:
1. If A has intrinsic value, then we need to consider the moral status of A.
2. If we need to consider the moral status of A, then A may deserve better treatment and consideration.
3. Thus, if A has intrinsic value, then A may deserve better treatment and consideration.
Bryan Norton questions whether disagreements about the moral status of nature necessarily prevent us from supporting the same/similar environmental policies. His answer is no and he proposes a “convergence hypothesis”, which predicts that non-anthropocentric and human‐based philosophical positions will actually converge on long‐sighted, multi‐value environmental policy. What Norton refutes is that, even if the basic values are different, it will not lead to significant differences in the formulation of practical policy. His “convergence hypothesis” is set out to show this and thereby resolve the dispute between anthropocentrism and non-anthropocentrism.
Although philosophers like Ben A. Minteer and Robert E. Manning admit that Norton’s thesis has made a great contribution to empirical environmental issues, which have made a real attempt to engage the empirical validity of the hypothesis, there might still be theoretical/metaphysical criticisms of convergence that cannot be neglected.
I argue that if the central distinction between anthropocentrism and non-anthropocentrism concerns whether nature has intrinsic value, then we should examine what exactly intrinsic value is. Otherwise, we will not be sure if nature has it nor whether we can use “intrinsic value” to divide between anthropocentrism and non-anthropocentrism. I argue that by loosening our conception of intrinsic value, we can see that the fundamental difference between anthropocentrism and non-anthropocentrism is not as significant as some philosophers (Richard Routely and Paul Taylor) think. That is to say, anthropocentrism and non-anthropocentrism will overlap in some cases to form a consensus, which also provides a good foundation for Norton’s convergence hypothesis. In this paper, I will first introduce the basic ideas of anthropocentrism and non-anthropocentrism based on the traditional understanding of intrinsic value in environment ethics. Then, in the second section, I will explain what intrinsic value is using its two main definitions in the wider field of meta-ethics: 1) “for its own sake” and 2) “in itself”. Thirdly, I will explore whether the opposite of intrinsic value is instrumental value or extrinsic value which helps to understand whether nature has intrinsic value. Fourth, I will summarise the different senses of intrinsic value and argue that the sense used by environmental philosophers is too simplistic. I argue that this simplistic interpretation of intrinsic value doesn’t plausibly mark a key difference between anthropocentrism and non-anthropocentrism.