Glossary – A

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Acoustic ecology

The interdisciplinary field that studies the auditory relationship between living organisms and their environments. In urban and suburban settings acoustic ecologists investigate the sonic effects of constant sound and noise pollution. In oceans, national parks, and wilderness areas there is heated debate over the presence of jet skis, airplane overflights, off-road vehicles, and military monitoring systems that rely on high-intensity underwater sonar blasts. Acoustic ecologists generally advocate the value of listening, the quality of the soundscape, and more consciously choosing the sounds humans create.


Literally “male-centered,” the conscious or unconscious practice of emphasizing the male viewpoint and male interests over the female viewpoint and female interests. Feminist theory commonly criticizes androcentrism on the grounds that it assumes a universal human nature corresponding to male attitudes while female attitudes are considered deviant.

Animal law

The branch of law concerning all interactions with animals from the perspective of traditional statutory and case law. The subjects of animal law include wildlife, animals kept in captivity, companion animals, and animals used for various entertainment, research, and food purposes. In the United   States animal laws exist at local, state, and national levels.


Literally “man-centered,” the conscious or unconscious practice of emphasizing the human viewpoint and human interests over nonhuman viewpoints and interests. Anthropocentrism is frequently justified on the grounds that, because humans are the most significant fact of the universe, they are the most important. See also chauvinism, human.


An alternative to the dichotomy between anthropocentrism and nonanthropocentrism that seeks to encapsulate both humanity and the natural world without placing greater value on a particular center—anthropocentric, biocentric, ecocentric—and thereby excluding or marginalizing something of peripheral value. From the anthropocosmic perspective, the values of humans (“anthropoi”) and the world (“cosmos”) are not in opposition, but are intimately interwoven.


The study of the relationship between an individual organism or an individual species and its physical environment. Contrast to synecology.

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