Aldo Leopold and the moral community

Environmental Ethics 8 (2):99-120 (1986)
Abstract
Aldo Leopold’s land ethic calls for an extension of ethical consideration to nonhuman components of the complex system he called “the land.” Although the basis for this extension was holistic, interpretations of Leopold’s holism leave one baffled at how he could see his land ethic as an extension of a system which recognizes individual human rights. Leopold’s critics and exponents alike have focused on the holism expressed in his definition of right and wrong. Both regard it as a working criterion of morality to be applied directly to conduct, act by act. Both are mistaken. Leopold was an indirect holist, not a direct one. That is, he applied his holistic definition of right and wrong not as a role for judging conduct directly, case by case, but as a principle for judging conduct only indirectly by judging the roles, tastes, predilections, practices, and attitudes which influence it
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