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Thinking Like a PlanetThe Land Ethic and the Earth Ethic$
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J. Baird Callicott

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199324880

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199324880.001.0001

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The Earth Ethic: A Critical Account of Its Philosophical Foundations

The Earth Ethic: A Critical Account of Its Philosophical Foundations

(p.154) (p.155) 6 The Earth Ethic: A Critical Account of Its Philosophical Foundations
Thinking Like a Planet

J. Baird Callicott

Oxford University Press

Aldo Leopold studied the Bible not for devotional but for rhetorical purposes. At the beginning of “Some Fundamentals of Conservation in the Southwest” (written in 1923) Leopold quotes Ezekiel’s criticism of land and water mismanagement and infers from it three moral rationales for conservation: (1) (a) personal, (b) professional, and (c) societal virtue; (2) responsibility to future generations, both to (a) “immediate posterity” and (b) the “Unknown Future”; and (3) respect for the earth as a living being. Leopold elaborates the idea of the Earth as a living being and speculates on the possibility of its “soul or consciousness” inspired by P. D. Ouspensky’s Tertium Organum. Leopold thus anticipates the Gaia Hypothesis. He ridicules metaphysical anthropocentrism and A. T. Hadley’s definition of truth as “that which prevails in the long run.” Bryan Norton argues that Leopold is endorsing Hadley’s definition, but fails to appreciate Leopold’s irony in mentioning it

Keywords:   Leopold, Ouspensky, Ezekiel, Norton, Hadley, virtue, future generations, respect, Gaia Hypothesis, anthropocentrism

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