Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: October 22, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412956260 | Print ISBN: 9781412916523 | Online ISBN: 9781412956260| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Joseph R. DesJardins
The Land Ethic is a perspective within environmental ethics that grants ethical priority to ecosystems and other ecological entities. Although the Land Ethic is sometimes used to refer to any ecocentric environmental ethic, the phrase originated in the writings of the American ecologist and writer Aldo Leopold (1887 – 1948) and is most commonly identified with Leopold's views. “Ecocentric” ethics integrates ethics and ecology by bringing such ecological wholes as species, populations, habitat, and ecosystems to the center of ethical consideration. Thus, an ecocentric approach is distinguished from biocentric (“life-centered”) approaches by its emphasis on ecological concepts rather than on individual living animals and plants. Ecocentric ethics also gives ethical consideration to nonliving natural objects, such as rivers, wetlands, and mountain ranges, in ways that a life-centered biocentric ethics does not. The science of ecology developed during Leopold's lifetime, and he was the first person to call for a radical ...