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Environmental Values

The Goat-stag and the Sphinx: The Place of the Virtues in Environmental Ethics

Robert L. Chapman

Environmental Values 11(2002): 129-144. doi: 10.3197/096327102129341019

Standard virtue ethics approach to environmental issues do not go far enough because they often lack significant attachment to local environments. Place provides the necessary link that enlarges the arena of moral action by joining human well-being to a place-based goal of wildness (Thoreau) or biotic harmony (Leopold). Place defines a niche for human activity as part of nature. Virtuous action, then, is understood as deliberation from a position of being in and of the natural world; respect and gratitude are examples of this type of deliberation.


KEYWORDS: Place, respect, gratitude, environmental virtue, Thoreau, Leopold, Aristotle


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