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

Environmental Values 26 (3):269-295 (2017)
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Abstract
The 70th 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 think 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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Archival date: 2016-11-20
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The Case for Animal Rights.Regan, Tom & Midgley, Mary

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