Aldo Leopold’S Essay “The Land Ethic” Was Published In

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Aldo Leopold’s essay “The Land Ethic” was published in A Sand County Almanac. The short paper confronts the imperfections in the most common approaches in preserving the environment. Leopold’s answer is to develop a new branch of environmental ethics to model humanity’s ever-changing relationship with the environment. Leopold observantly describes the history of ethics, the meaning of community with the land and why it’s appropriate to do so. Toward the end of the essay – as the reader is ready for Leopold to thoroughly explain his moral code – he ambiguously finishes, “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise” (Leopold, 224–225). The reader…show more content…
Again, the reader turns to Leopold to provide a concrete ethical viewpoint. But this is nearly impossible because Leopold doesn’t have the answers to fix the biotic clock. Any viewpoint he relays might result in complete failure.
Leopold is calling for a philosophical shift rather than a change in our actions. In the beginning of the essay, Leopold references The Ten Commandments and The Golden Rule. The pair of ethical viewpoints guides our everyday relationships in society. The Ten Commandments is a documentation of ten moral rules that are set in stone (pun intended.) The Golden Rule is a single principle of mutuality: treat others how you want to be treated. While one approach is only to be obeyed, the other depends on deep self-reflection. To truly know how to treat someone, we must think about consequences and respect one another. The land ethic is not a list of rules, which should be taken for what it is, but an attitude that can change on a daily basis. Leopold seeks to reconstruct humanity’s ethical knowledge to its core. He observes the way humans interact compassionately, and is determined to explain why it is important to extend this compassion to the environment. “It is inconceivable to me that an ethical relation to the land can exist without love, respect, and admiration for land and a high regard for its value” (Leopold

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