Environmental Ethics

Volume 18, Issue 4, Winter 1996

J. Baird Callicott
Pages 353-372

Do Deconstructive Ecology and Sociobiology Undermine Leopold’s Land Ethic?

Recent deconstructive developments in ecology (doubts about the existence of unified communities and ecosystems, the diversity-stability hypothesis, and a natural homeostasis or “balance of nature”; and an emphasis on “chaos,” “perturbation,” and directionless change in living nature) and the advent of sociobiology (selfish genes) may seem to undermine the scientific foundations of environmental ethics, especially the Leopold land ethic. A reassessment of the Leopold land ethic in light of these developments (and vice versa) indicates that the land ethic is still a viable environmental ethic, if judiciously updated and revised.

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