Environmental Ethics

Volume 18, Issue 4, Winter 1996

Hugh Williams
Pages 391-410

What is Good Forestry?
An Ethical Examination of Forest Policy and Practice in New Brunswick

Public concern for ecological and environmental values is making the job of forest management increasingly complex and uncertain and is gradually undermining the domination of timber value as the primary organizing goal of forest policy. The key question is how to balance the pursuit of short-term economic self-interests with the long-term public good. I articulate a moral theory that affirms the existence of a public good that is understood teleologically as an objective purpose to be pursued. I argue that there is a connection between the philosophical and moral concept of creativity and the scientific concept of biological diversity. I suggest that these concepts are both linked to the political question of the public good. The maximization of the ethical good of creativity according to this theory is linked to the maximization of the public good. In forestry, the management of forest ecosystems in order to maximize their creative good is linked to the maximization of the public good and vice versa. This ethical theory is essentially a religious one in the neoclassical theistic tradition, in which authentic human existence is defined in terms of our relationship to reality and a metaphysically and cosmologically informed world view.