Gary Varner's Biocentric Individualism

726 Words3 Pages

In "Biocentric Individualism," Gary Varner argues that plants are not disqualified from having moral standing simply due to the fact that they are congenitally incapable of desiring. In this paper, I will first define the meaning of biocentric individualism and then give a brief explanation of the mental state theory of individual welfare in contrast of the psycho-biological theory of individual welfare. Next, I will recontruct Varner's argument and explain the premises he uses to come to this conclusion. Finally, I will conclude by contructing a critical objection to Varner's argument.

To begin with, Varner states that biocentric individualism "attribute moral standing to all living things while denying that holistic entities like species …show more content…

For example, an individual may have desires that go against their best interests. Varner uses an example of a cat. He states that, "cats find the outdoors facinating, but they also encounter health risks outside, including exposure to feline leukemia virus and fleas" (Varner 93). Cats desire access to the outdoors, however they do not and cannot understand the risks involved, such as getting diseases. The cat may want to go outside and explore, even though it is evidently obvious that their desire is against their best interests, which is not to get a disease. However, whenever the cat in fact wants to go outside, they have no interest whatsoever in staying inside. What is in their interests is whatever they happen to desire at that moment of time (Varner 94). Therefore, the cat's interest is to not get any diseases, and desires cannot be the only thing that contributes to interest.

The psycho-biological theory of individual welfare avoids this implication because it supports the intuition that the cat has some interest in staying inside, since doing so would serve their biologically based needs by preventing exposure to diseases (Varner

Open Document