The Land Ethic as an Ecological Civilizing Process

Environmental Ethics 31 (2):115-134 (2009)
Aldo Leopold in “The Land Ethic” made the case for an environmental ethic as both a moral imperative and an unfolding historical process. In The Civilising Process, Norbert Elias shows how, in all societies, the molding of personality and the internalization of affective constraints on behavior are linked to long-term processes of social development. In terms of a common root in Darwinian/Humean naturalism, an understanding of the land ethic as an “ecological civilizing process” can shed light on the sociogenetic mechanisms which are transforming, albeit slowly, the “foundations of conduct” toward the environment. In this transformation, expanded notions of kinship and proximity provide the basis for the deontological identification of community with the biosphere.
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DOI 10.5840/enviroethics200931215
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