Environmental Ethics 36 (4):443-453 (2014)

Authors
Mark Budolfson
Rutgers University - New Brunswick
Abstract
The standard interpretation of Aldo Leopold’s land ethic is that correct land management is whatever tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community, of which we humans are merely a small part. From this interpretation, it is a short step to interpreting Leopold as a sort of deep ecologist or radical environmentalist. However, this interpretation is based on a small number of quotations from Leopold taken out of context. Once these quota­tions are put into context, and once the broader context of Leopold’s mature writings and his actions as a land manager are taken into account, it becomes clear that he is much closer to being an enlightened anthropocentrist than he is to being anything like a radical environmentalist. When properly understood, Leopold’s land ethic recognizes that fundamental human interests must be treated with the highest possible respect, and it emphasizes the incredible challenge and need for modesty in identifying the correct tradeoffs between lesser human interests and the interests of the broader biotic community.
Keywords Aldo Leopold  anthropocentrism  Applied Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest  Social and Political Philosophy  environmental ethics  environment  hunting  cost-benefit analysis  land ethic
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ISBN(s) 0163-4275
DOI 10.5840/enviroethics201436447
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The Land Ethic.Aldo Leopold - forthcoming - Environmental Ethics.

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