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Environmental Ethics

Volume 21, Issue 4, Winter 1999

Jennifer Welchman
Pages 411-423

The Virtues of Stewardship

What virtues do good stewards typically have and can these virtues move people to be good stewards of nature? Why focus on the virtues of stewards rather than on trying to construct and defend morally obligatory rules to govern human behavior? I argue that benevolence and loyalty are crucial for good stewardship and these virtues can and do motivate people to act as good stewards of nature. Moreover, since it is a matter of dispute whether rational considerations can move us to perform a given act in the absence of disposition to do so, I argue we should try to determine which moral dispositions (if any) will motivate people to be concerned for the environment so that the development of environmentally sensitive character may be encouraged.