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Re-examining the Darwinian Basis for Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic

Millstein, Roberta L. (2015) Re-examining the Darwinian Basis for Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic. [Preprint]

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    Many philosophers have become familiar with Leopold’s land ethic through the writings of J. Baird Callicott, who claims that Leopold bases his land ethic on a “protosociobiological” argument that Darwin gives in the Descent of Man. On this view, which has become the canonical interpretation, Leopold’s land ethic is based on extending our moral sentiments to ecosystems. I argue that the evidence weighs in favor of an alternative interpretation of Leopold; his reference to Darwin does not refer to the Descent, but rather to the Origin of Species, where Darwin discusses the interdependencies between organisms in the struggle for existence.

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    Item Type: Preprint
    Additional Information: Forthcoming in Ethics, Policy & Environment. There may be small differences between this version and the published version.
    Keywords: Leopold, Darwin, Land Ethic, ecosystem, community, land pyramid, stability, interdependence, Descent of Man, Origin of Species, moral sentiment
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Ecology/Conservation
    General Issues > Ethical Issues
    General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
    Depositing User: Dr. Roberta L. Millstein
    Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2015 19:52
    Last Modified: 24 Mar 2016 22:16
    Item ID: 11283

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