Environmental Ethics 3 (4):351-363 (1981)
In formulating the concept of a “land ethic,” Aldo Leopold suggested that true conservation would begin when we enlarged our sense of community to include other organisms besides human beings. This cannot be done, I argue, until we begin viewing other beings in nature as worthy of existence on their own terms, rather than simply as means to human ends. I use Martin Buber’s philosophy of dialogue,as expounded in I and Thou, to shed light on the spiritual roots of our environmental crisis and show how we can appreciate beings in nature if we encounter them as persons rather than things. Applying Buber’s concepts to the experiences of backpackers suggests that wildemess travel can help individuals develop habits of mind conducive to I-You relations, thereby enhancing our life with other people as well as with our natural environment
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