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Environmental Ethics

Volume 15, Issue 1, Spring 1993

Peter S. Wenz
Pages 61-74

Minimal, Moderate, and Extreme Moral Pluralism

Concentrating on the views of Christopher Stone, who advocates moral pluralism, and J. Baird Callicott, who criticizes Stone’s views, I argue that the debate has been confused by a conflation of three different positions, here called minimal, moderate, and extreme moral pluralism. Minimal pluralism is uncontroversial because all known moral theories are minimally pluralistic. Extreme pluralism is defective in the ways that Callicott alleges and, moreover, is inconsistent with integrity in the moral life. However, moderate pluralism of the sort that I advance in Environmental Justice is distinct from extreme pluralism and free of its defects. It is also consistent with Callicott’s version of Aldo Leopold’s land ethic, which is itself moderately pluralistic.

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