By J. Baird Callicott
A sequel to Callicott's pioneering paintings, In security of the Land Ethic, past the Land Ethic engages a large spectrum of issues principal to the sphere, together with the bothered dating of environmental philosophy to present mainstream educational philosophy; the connection of modern advancements in evolutionary and ecological sciences to the Leopold land ethic lengthy championed through the writer; the perennial debates in environmental ethics concerning the ontological prestige of intrinsic worth and the need of ethical pluralism; the metaphysical implications of ecology and the recent Physics as appear in agriculture, medication, and business know-how; and the philosophical dimensions of conservation biology and "clinical ecology."
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A metaethical theory of the ontological status of human rights which denies that they are anything objective, however, does not underminenor is such a theory intended to underminethe considerable normative efficacy of human rights. Similarly, a Modern metaethical theory of the ontological status of the intrinsic value of nature, such as mine, which denies that the intrinsic value of nature is objective, and asserts instead that it is subjectively conferred by valuing subjects, would in no way compromisenor is it intended to compromisethe considerable impact on environmental policy and law that a wide recognition of the intrinsic value of nature would make.
Leopold characterizes the land ethic, I noted, as an "accretion," that is, an addition to our familiar human-to-human ethics; it is not intended to replace or eclipse our familiar human-to-human ethics. But if the summary moral maxim of the land ethic is a new principle to be added to others, we can only do so consistently, that is, without self-contradiction, if we can locate it within an ethical theory and moral philosophy that accommodates a plurality of principles, human, humane, and environmental.
And J. Donald Hughes, President of the American Society for Environmental History, is John Evans Professor of History at the University of Denver. Until recently, I was a plain, no-name philosophy professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, a self-styled "undergraduate teaching institution" offering no advanced degrees, and I am now employed in another brand-X position by the University of North Texaswhich can plausibly claim, while offering only a master's degree, to have the best graduate program in environmental philosophy in the United States.