Land Ethic Through a Retrospective Lens: Focusing and Refocusing Moral Community

Joseph E. Bush


Aldo Leopold proposed in 1949 that the community of moral concern would expand to include the land.  Such a vision of the expansion of moral community has continued to find echoes among contemporary thinkers with a variety of perspectives. This paper suggests five foci as a typology for characterizing this expansive conversation about ecotheology and ecological ethics: (1) a localized focus on particular place, (2) a revisioning focus on scripture, (3) a re-centering focus on the putative ‘center’ of value, (4) ecocentrism or a de-centering focus on value within ecological relationship, and (5) an expansive focus on the cosmos.  Both human power and human vulnerability within the natural world become salient in this conversation.  Ironically, however, even in seeking to determine value in nature, it is human agency that is tacitly empowered to act in accord with that perceived ecological value.


ecotheology, environmental ethics, ecological ethics, ecojustice

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ISSN: 2169-1088