Question

Respond to the following three questions:

1. Aldo Leopold claims that evolutionary changes are different in kind to man-made changes, which he describes as “violent.” Given this difference, why doesn’t he argue that man-made, “violent” changes should be altogether eliminated from the land ethic?

2. Can the ideal of the “sacred circle of life”, as it is described by Georges Sioui, be the foundation of our new environmental ethic? Why or why not?

3. Explain Julian Simon’s argument for his claim that the supply of natural resources is not limited. Does climate change pose a challenge to his position?

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Leopold’s ‘land ethic’ is a principle meant to determine the rightness or wrongness of action along the following lines: an action is “right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community…[and] is wrong when it tends otherwise” (Leopold, 1970, p. 224). So, on such a conception of the environment, what is the status of change? Note that Leopold uses the word “community” in describing the nature and status of the environment, and assigns it the high-caliber qualities of “integrity, stability, and beauty” – community is a notion and term generally associated with persons, as are the qualities listed. Thus, the environment is made continuous with our own communities; another way to see Leopold’s point is that, as he puts it, we, Homo sapiens, are “plain member[s] and citizen[s]” of the land community, rather than conquerors of it. So, with the environment described—and, vitally, understood—in these terms, what does ‘change’ in such a context mean? Clearly, on Leopold’s view, the environment has value—positive, ethical value in particular—so it only stands to reason that ‘change’ is a similarly...

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