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Value Pluralism and Consistency Maximisation in the Writings of Aldo Leopold: Moving Beyond Callicott's Interpretations of the Land Ethic

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The seventieth anniversary of Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac (1949) approaches. For philosophers - environmental ethicists in particular - this text has been highly influential, especially the 'Land Ethic' essay contained therein. Given philosophers' acumen for identifying and critiquing arguments, one might reasonably expect a firm grasp of Leopold's ideas to have emerged from such attention. I argue that this is not the case. Specifically, Leopold's main interpreter and systematiser, philosopher J. Baird Callicott, has shoehorned Aldo Leopold's ideas into differing monistic moral theories that ill serve a proper understanding. Against Callicott, my paper argues that Aldo Leopold embraces a robust moral pluralism, one that goes beyond mere pragmatics, and he does so while seeking a consistency maximisation of values. A new, improved understanding of Leopold's ideas thus emerges.
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Keywords: Aldo Leopold; J. Baird Callicott; Land Ethic; environmental ethics; moral pluralism

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2017

More about this publication?
  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2019) of 2.158. 5 Year Impact Factor: 2.047.
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