Moral Extensionism

Last updated: March 2, 2017

What Does Moral Extensionism Mean?

According to the principle of moral extensionism, human beings should consider environmental issues as an area of moral concern rather than regarding the them purely from the standpoint of utility to humans. Moral extensionism extends rights and moral standing to animals and other parts of the natural environment.

Moral extensionism is also known as ethical extensionism.

Safeopedia Explains Moral Extensionism

The traditional approach to rights and moral status is anthropocentric in so far as it restricts moral considerations to human beings. Moral extensionism argues for the expansion of that consideration to members of non-human animal and plant species or to ecosystems as a whole.

Moral extensionism is closely related to the philosophy of deep ecology, which sees the natural world as having inherent value. It can be traced back to the concept of the land ethic, described by the ecologist Aldo Leopold in his 1949 book A Sand County Almanac.


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