Why We Love the Land

Ethics and the Environment 2 (1):53 - 65 (1997)
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Philosophers today recognize that we love the land, but they do not explain satisfactorily why we do. Holmes Rolston, for example, argues that we find values in nature, but he does not explain why we love them. J. Baird Callicott explains why we love nature, but he does not argue that it has values in itself. I want to suggest that we feel love for the land because it is itself lovable. I agree with Rolston that an ecosystem has properties which are intrinsically valuable and inherent, but I wish to explain why we feel love for these properties. My approach rests on Aristotle's conception of friendship and its object. I argue that much as we love our friends for their sakes, so too we can love ecosystems for their sakes. A friend and an ecosystem can have qualities which are of a similar sort and make them both lovable. And, as we take a mental pleasure in seeing a friend fare well, so too we may take a mental pleasure in seeing an ecosystem function well.



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Paul Schollmeier
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

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