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Environmental Ethics

Volume 4, Issue 4, Winter 1982

J. Baird Callicott
Pages 293-318

Traditional American Indian and Western European Attitudes toward Nature
An Overview

A generalized traditional Western world view is compared with a generalized traditional American Indian world view in respect to the practical relations implied by either to nature. The Western tradition pictures nature as material, mechanical, and devoid of spirit (reserving that exclusively for humans), while the American Indian tradition pictures nature throughout as an extended family or society of living, ensouled beings. The former picture invites unrestrained exploitation of nonhuman nature, while the latter provides the foundations for ethical restraint in relation to nonhuman nature. This conclusion is defended against disclaimers by Calvin Martin and Tom Regan.

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