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Land Ethic Research Paper Jordan Newbould


Part I (min 1 page). A summary of The Land Ethic in your own words.

“Raw wilderness gives definition and meaning to human enterprise.” Leopold begins The Land

Ethic by pronouncing raw wilderness and its impact on human growth and enterprise. Leopold

roughly interprets The Land Ethic as a moral responsibility humans have for the natural world.

Leopold even suggests that there should be a social revolution for humans to have a more ethical

viewpoint on the land. His analogy from Odysseus and his execution of twelve slave-girls to set

forth a tone for the reader that taking advantage of this outlook on property is immoral. Similar,

people today look at the land as property for resources and economic use, much like how

Odysseus viewed his slave girls. This analogy lets the reader evaluate the way humans look at

the land currently and whether that will change. Leopold insinuates how the land is should be

valued in an ethical way rather than economical.

Leopold believes that an ethic based on economic incentives alone is insufficient because it does

not confirm its right to an existence. People view it more as having obligations to take care of

and value a long-lasting, ecosystem within this economic relationship between the land and

people. Having obligations to land usage that go above personal self-interest create a greater

movement for the progress of conservation for this land. Leopold argues that we cannot have

valued relationship with the land if we do not love, admire and respect its privileges. He suggests

the right actions “implies respect for fellow members, and also respect for the community as

such” a valued action is right when it tends to preserve the integrity and stability of the biotic

community, identification of the economic advantages of certain species or particular types of

Land Ethic Research Paper Jordan Newbould
land always require us to pull elements of ecosystems out of context. Focus on economics within

our land always ignores holism (human-centered ethic) which fails to locate humans within the

context of the larger community. The land ethic “enlarges the boundaries of the community.” A

land ethic changes the role of humans from conqueror of the land and community to a citizen and

member of that land. Leopold’s land ethic is a relevant analysis of the ecosystem and the biotic

community. Humans existence depends on their connection and relationship with this complex

land pyramid that make up the basic units of our environment.

Part II. Questions.

•How would you characterize your own conservation philosophy? How did you come to

hold these beliefs?

I would characterize my own conservation philosophy as mixed. I believe that nature have a

specific intrinsic value for our environment and for humanity itself. I personally believe that we

must shelter and take care the land and all living creatures, in a cautious manner. Life is

connected and carefully balanced. I feel that every piece of life have a purpose, that is not

necessarily up to us as a species to determine whether another species should be or go extinct.

•Consider this statement: “A land ethic changes the role of humans from conqueror of the

land community to plain members and citizens of it. It implies respect for his fellow-

members, and also respect for the community as such.” How would you apply this ethic in


I feel that if you respect the land you will personally be rewarded with what it provides you. I

would apply this ethical practice by treating others and the land with the same respect and
Land Ethic Research Paper Jordan Newbould
dignity that I would like to be given. I think that it is important to respect others within your

community in order to gain a moral philosophy of your personal code of ethics and values.

• Leopold wrote in the 1940’s, “The land-relation is still strictly economic, entailing

privileges but not obligations.” What would you say is our land-relation today?

I think that our relationship with our land has changed drastically since Leopold interpretation in

the 1940s. For example more citizens and activists advocate their concern for the environment,

and using it properly, than in Leopold’s time. I believe that are citizens are more educated about

Conservation Biology, we’ve considered economic incentives and privileges and hopefully we

are more aware of our obligations to the planet.

•Leopold says the land ethic is extending a community’s sensibilities to all members of the

community, nonhuman as well as human. What would that mean in your life or


I agree with his statement to extend community’s sensibilities to all members of the community,

nonhuman as well as human. I believe that humans are a specific role to in its connection and

relationships to other nonhuman parts of our community such as the stems and roots of our

ecosystem that collectively make up the land. Everything living thing needs to be treated with

dignity and respect that it deserves. I feel that we have a vital connection to our physical

community and all the species have a specific role within that community to maintain a balanced

ecological pyramid.

•Do you agree with this passage from the “Land Ethic”: “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.” Was Leopold suggesting that the integrity of the biotic community
Land Ethic Research Paper Jordan Newbould
supersedes the concerns for its individual members? What are the implications of this

concept for you?

I feel that Leopold is suggesting that the stability of a biotic community extends the concerns for

its individual members within that community. I agree with Leopold’s statement, I think each

species has a role within their biotic community to maintain the stability and progression of their


•In the “Land Ethic,” Leopold said, “It is inconceivable to me that an ethical relationship

[with land] can exist without love, respect, admiration, and a high regard for its value.”

Which is more motivating for you: beauty (aesthetics) or duty (ethics)?

Personally, I feel that we all have a set of values and code of ethics that we all adhere to. I think

that my personal duty (ethical code) is more motivating, but can be as motivating as the

aesthetics and admiration of nature’s value. I feel that each of the species within the community

have an ethical relational and motivation to continue to live and strive to continually maintain its

connection with others within the environment and community.

•In thinking about your “land ethic,” does it emanate primarily from self interest, or from a

true interest in non-human elements?

I feel my “land ethic” emanates primarily from a true interest in non-human elements. I believe

that all creatures and species within a community and have a purpose and connection within

that environment. I believe that we do not have the privilege to dictate which species should be

lost within certain environments. I personally view my “land ethic” as ensuring to take care of
Land Ethic Research Paper Jordan Newbould
my environment by reducing my carbon footprint and continuing to value nature and the

environment for its beauty and stability.

Part III. Critique.

Lastly, I believe that “the land ethic” was a useful reading source. I believe that this helped me to

better see where I “fit” within the web of life and evaluate my beliefs about this. Direct contact

with our natural world is crucial in shaping our ethics beyond our self-interests. I feel that many

citizens’ even younger people in high school may view a view the environment differently if

they read this piece by Leopold. I would highly recommend this reading to others who are

genuinely interested in preserving our biotic community, the environment, and our world. We are

all a part of the thinking community that needs to shape our land ethic for the 21st century and

beyond. Together we can form a land ethic that can be passed down to future generations.

Leopold recognized the set values based on caring for people and land and the connections

between them to evolve the minds of evolving community. “When we see land as a community

to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”