Environmental Ethics

Volume 18, Issue 1, Spring 1996

Douglas J. Buege
Pages 71-88

The Ecologically Noble Savage Revisited

The stereotype of the “ecologically noble savage” is still prevalent in European-American discourses. I examine the empirical justifications offered for this stereotype, concluding that we lack sound empirical grounds for believing in “ecological nobility.” I argue that the stereotype should be abandoned because it has negative consequences for native peoples. Instead of accepting questionable stereotypes, philosophers and others should focus on the lives of particular peoples in order to understand their philosophies as well as the relationships that they maintain with their homelands.