Ecological morality and nonmoral sentiments

Environmental Ethics 18 (2):149-163 (1996)
Abstract
A complete environmental ethic must include a theory of motivation to assure that the demands of that ethic are within the capacity of human beings. J. Baird Callicott has argued that these requisite sentiments may be found in the moral psychology of David Hume, enriched by the insights of Charles Darwin. I reply that, on the contrary, Humean moral sentiments are more likely to incline one toanthropocentrism than to Aldo Leopold’s land ethic, which is defended by Callicott. This mismatch becomes more evident as Callicott attempts to enlist Humean moral sentiments in support of the Leopoldian “land community.” The disanalogies between human and natural communities, I argue, are too great to permit this application. The motivation we need to meet our duties as “citizens of the land community” must be of a nonmoral kind. I suggest that the necessary sentiments may be found in a genetically based “affirmation of nature” that has evolved out of our natural history as a species, shaped by the very forces and contexts that are now put in peril by our technology
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