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Land Ethic

The emergence of the specific ethical relationship to the earth known as the land ethic is attributed to Aldo Leopold, a forester and natural resource manager who lived and worked in the first half of the 20th century. The land ethic moves beyond economic valuation of natural resources to incorporate intrinsic values such as “love, respect, and admiration for land.”

Prior to Leopold's construction of his land ethic, American conservation ethics had undergone two major iterations. J. Baird Callicott, a prominent environmental ethicist, describes the two preceding philosophies as, first, a Romantic-Transcendental Preservation Ethic, put forth by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau and expanded upon by John Muir in the early 1900s, and second, a Progressive-Utilitarian Resource Conservation Ethic, largely attributed to Gifford Pinchot ...

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