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Environmental Values

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

Ben Dixon

Environmental Values 26 (2017): 269-295. doi: 10.3197/096327117X14913285800661

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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.


Aldo Leopold, Land Ethic, J. Baird Callicott, moral pluralism, environmental ethics

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

'Back Together Again' Again. J. Baird Callicott

Was Aldo Leopold a Pragmatist? Rescuing Leopold from the Imagination of Bryan Norton. J. Baird Callicott, William Grove-Fanning, Jennifer Rowland, Daniel Baskind, Robert Heath French and Kerry Walker

Darwinism and Human Dignity.Ben Dixon

What Leopold Learned from Darwin and Hadley: Comment on Callicott et al. Bryan G. Norton

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles

Editorial: Beyond the Anthropocene: Perspectives on Human-Nature Relations, Old and New. Marion Hourdequin

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