Environmental Philosophy

Volume 4, Issue 1/2, Spring/Fall 2007

Special Double Issue: Environmental Aesthetics and Ecological Restoration

Max Oelschlaeger
Pages 149-161

Ecological Restoration, Aldo Leopold, and Beauty
An Evolutionary Tale

While the conceptual depths of Aldo Leopold’s land ethic have been limned by environmental ethicists, the relevance of his philosophy to ecological restoration—an applied environmental science—is less well known. I interpret some of his contributions to ecological restoration by framing his work within an expanded evolutionary frame. I especially emphasize the importance of natural beauty to his thinking. Recontextualized as a manifestation of emergent evolutionary complexity, the beauty of nature is fundamental not only to strong ecological restoration, but to reframing our own self-conceptualizations—that is, the human place in the larger order of nature.