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Academic & Professional Books  History & Other Humanities  Philosophy, Ethics & Religion

Thinking Like a Planet The Land Ethic and the Earth Ethic

By: J Baird Callicott(Author)
374 pages, b/w illustrations
Thinking Like a Planet
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  • Thinking Like a Planet ISBN: 9780199324897 Paperback Feb 2014 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
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About this book

Bringing together ecology, evolutionary moral psychology, and environmental ethics, J. Baird Callicott counters the narrative of blame and despair that prevails in contemporary discussions of climate ethics and offers a fresh, more optimistic approach. Whereas other environmental ethicists limit themselves to what Callicott calls Rational Individualism in discussing the problem of climate change only to conclude that, essentially, there is little hope that anything will be done in the face of its "perfect moral storm" (in Stephen Gardiner's words), Callicott refuses to accept this view.

Instead, he encourages us to look to the Earth itself, and consider the crisis on grander spatial and temporal scales, as we have failed to in the past. Callicott supports this theory by exploring and enhancing Aldo Leopold's faint sketch of an Earth ethic in Some Fundamentals of Conservation in the Southwest, a seldom-studied text from the early days of environmental ethics that was written in 1923 but not published until 1979 after the environmental movement gathered strength.



1. A Sand County Almanac
1.1 The Author
1.2 The Provenance of the Book
1.3 The Unity of A Sand County Almanac-An Evolutionary-Ecological Worldview
1.4 The Argument of the Foreword-Toward Worldview Remediation
1.5 The Argument in Part I-The Inter-subjective Biotic Community-Introduced
1.6 The Argument of Part I-The Inter-subjective Biotic Community-Driven Home
1.7 The Argument in Part II-The Evolutionary Aspect: Time and Telos
1.8 The Argument in Part II-The Evolutionary Aspect: Beauty, Kinship, and Spirituality
1.9 The Argument of Part II-The Ecological Aspect
1.10 The Argument of Part II-The Pivotal Trope: "Thinking Like a Mountain"
1.11 Norton's Narrow Interpretation of Leopold's Worldview-remediation Project
1.12 The Argument of Part III-To "See" with the Ecologist's "Mental Eye"
1.13 The Argument of Part III-Axiological Implications of the Evolutionary-Ecological Worldview
1.14 The Argument of Part III-The Normative Implications of the Evolutionary-Ecological Worldview
1.15 The Persuasive Power of Leopold's Style of Writing
1.16 The New Shifting Paradigm in Ecology and the Evolutionary-Ecological Worldview
1.17 The Challenge Before Us

2. The Land Ethic: A Critical Account of Its Philosophical and Evolutionary Foundations
2.1 The Odysseus Vignette
2.2 Expansion of the Scope of Ethics Over Time (?)
2.3 Ethical Criteria/Norms/Ideals versus (un)Ethical Behavior/Practice
2.4 Ethics Ecologically (Biologically) Speaking
2.5 Darwin's Account of the Origin of Ethics by Natural Selection
2.6 Darwin's Account of the Extension of Ethics
2.7 The Community Concept in Ecology
2.8 The Humean Foundations of Darwin's Evolutionary Account of the Moral Sense
2.9 Universalism and Relativism: Hume and Darwin
2.10 How Hume Anticipates Darwin's Account of the Origin and Expansion of Ethics
2.11 Shades of the Social-Contract Theory of Ethics in "The Land Ethic"
2.12 Individualism in (Benthamic) Utilitarianism and (Kantian) Deontology
2.13 Holism in Hume's Moral Philosophy
2.14 Holism in "The Land Ethic"
2.15 The Land Ethic and the Problem of Ecofascism Resolved
2.16 Prioritizing Cross-community Duties and Obligations
2.17 Is The Land Ethic Anthropocentric or Non-anthropocentric?

3. The Land Ethic (an Ought): A Critical Account of Its Ecological Foundations (an Is)
3.1 Moore's Naturalistic Fallacy
3.2 Hume's Is/Ought Dichotomy and the Land Ethic
3.3 How Hume Bridges the Lacuna Between Is-statements and Ought-statements
3.4 How Kant Infers Ought-statements from Is-statements in Hypothetical Imperatives
3.5 The Specter of Hume's Is/Ought Dichotomy Finally Exorcised
3.6 The Roles of Reason and Feeling in Hume's Ethical Theory Generally and Leopold's Land Ethic Particularly
3.7 How the General Theory of Evolution Informs the Land Ethic
3.8 How Ecosystem Ecology Informs the Land Ethic-Beyond the Biota
3.9 How Ecosystem Ecology Informs the Land Ethic-A Fountain of Energy
3.10 How Organismic Ecology Informs the Land Ethic
3.11 How Mechanistic Ecology Informs the Land Ethic
3.12 How the Ecosystem Paradigm Returns Ecology to Its Organismic Roots
3.13 How Leopold Anticipates Hierarchy Theory in "The Land Ethic"
3.14 Ecological Ontology and the Community Paradigm in Ecology
3.15 Ecological Ontology and the Ecosystem Paradigm in Ecology
3.16 The "Flux of Nature" Paradigm Shift in Contemporary Ecology and "The Land Ethic"
3.17 A Revised Summary Moral Maxim for the Land Ethic

4. The Land Ethic and the Science of Ethics: From the Seventeenth through the Twentieth Centuries
4.1 Hobbes's Science of Ethics
4.2 Locke's Science of Ethics
4.3 Hume's Science of Ethics
4.4 Kant's Science of Ethics
4.5 The Utilitarian Science of Ethics
4.6 How Logical Positivism Cleaved Apart Science and Ethics
4.7 Ayer's Migration of a Science of Ethics from Philosophy to the Social Sciences
4.8 Kohlberg's Social Science of Ethics
4.9 Gilligan's Social Science of Ethics
4.10 Group Selection in Darwin's Science of Ethics
4.11 Group Selection in Wynne-Edwards's Evolutionary Biology
4.12 Williams's Attack on Group Selection
4.13 Huxley's and Williams's Anti-natural (and Anti-logical) View of Ethics
4.14 Sociobiology: Wilson's Neo-Darwinian Account of the Origin of Ethics
4.15 The Fallacies of Division and Composition in the Sociobiological Science of Ethics
4.16 Sociobiology and Biological Determinism
4.17 The Evolutionary Foundations of the Land Ethic in Light of the Modern and the New Syntheses in Evolutionary Biology

5. The Land Ethic and the Science of Ethics: In the Light of Evolutionary Moral Psychology
5.1 Singer's Response to the Evolutionary Account of Ethics
5.2 Rachels' Response to the Evolutionary Account of Ethics
5.3 Darwin's Alternative to Animal Ethics à la Singer and Rachels
5.4 Midgley's Alternative to Animal Ethics à la Singer and Rachels
5.5 A Community-based Analysis of Ethical Partiality
5.6 A Community-based Analysis of Ethical Impartiality
5.7 Dennett, Singer, Arnhart, and Haidt on the Philosophical Implications of Darwinism
5.8 Group Selection Revisited
5.9 The Analogy between Language and Ethics
5.10 Hume on Nature and Nurture in Ethics
5.11 Post-Positivist Ethical Absolutism
5.12 Wherefore Post-Positivist Ethical Rationalism and Exclusionism
5.13 Moral Norms in Humean Ethics Analogous to Medical Norms
5.14 Critically Appraising Moral Norms in Terms of Intra-social Functionality and Inter-social Harmony
5.15 A Humean-Darwinian Science of Ethics and Constrained Cultural Relativism
5.16 The Philosophical Foundations of the Land Ethic Vindicated by the Contemporary Science of Ethics, but Limited to Ecological Spatial and Temporal Scales

6. The Earth Ethic: A Critical Account of Its Philosophical Foundations
6.1 Leopold and Biblical Tropes
6.2 Ezekiel and Virtue Ethics-Both Individualistc and Holistic
6.3 Ezekiel and Responsibility to Future Generations
6.4 Ezekiel and Deontological Respect for the Earth as a Living Thing
6.5 Leopold Dimly Envisions Hierarchy Theory in "Some Fundamentals"
6.6 How Leopold Interprets P. D. Ouspensky and His Book, Tertium Organum
6.7 The Earth's Soul or Consciousness
6.8 A Scalar Resolution of a "Dead" Earth versus the Earth as a "Living Being"
6.9 Respect for Life as Such
6.10 Leopold's Charge that Both Religion and Science are Anthropocentric
6.11 How Leopold Ridicules Metaphysical Anthropocentrism
6.12 Leopold's Use of Irony as an Instrument of Ridicule
6.13 Norton's Reading of Leopold as an Anthropocentric Pragmatist
6.14 Ouspensky, Leopold, and "Linguistic Pluralism"-according to Norton
6.15 Leopold's Return to Virtue Ethics
6.16 Leopold's Non-anthropocentric Anthropocentrism
6.17 The Leopold Earth Ethic: A Summary and a Preview

7. The Earth Ethic: A Critical Account of Its Scientific Metaphysical Foundations
7.1 Ouspensky's Metaphysics and the Four-dimensional Space-time Continuum
7.2 Vernadsky's Metaphysics and the Four-dimensional Space-time Continuum: Space
7.3 Vernadsky's Metaphysics and the Four-dimensional Space-time Continuum: Time
7.4 Vernadsky's Doctrine of the Abiogenesis of Life on Earth
7.5 Venadsky's Anti-vitalism
7.6 Vernadsky's Lasting Contribution to Biogeochemistry and Gaian Science
7.7 Teilhard's Concept of the Noösphere
7.8 Vernadsky's Concept of the Noösphere
7.9 Scientific Knowledge as a Planetary Phenomenon
7.10 The Biosphere Crosses the Atlantic
7.11 The Advent of the Gaia Hypothesis
7.12 The Biosphere and Gaia Ecologized
7.13 Vernadsky's Biosphere and Lovelock's Gaia: Similarities and Differences
7.14 Leopold's Living Thing, Vernadsky's Biosphere, and Lovelock's Gaia
7.15 Is the Gaia Hypothesis Necessarily Teleological and Anthropomorphic?
7.16 Varieties of the Earth's Soul or Consciousness
7.17 Personal Speculations on the Earth's Soul or Consciousness

8. The Earth Ethic: A Critical Account of Its Biocentric Deontological Foundations
8.1 Leopold's Biocentric Earth Ethic and the Living Earth
8.2 Gaian Ontology
8.3 Gaian Norms
8.4 Schweitzer's Reverence-for-Life Ethic
8.5 Schweitzer's Reverence-for-Life Ethic Rooted in the Metaphysics of Schopenhauer
8.6 Feinberg's Conativism
8.7 Feinberg's Conativism as a Foundation for a Biocentric Earth Ethic?
8.8 Goodpaster's Biocentrism
8.9 Goodpaster's Holistic Biocentrism as a Foundation for a Biocentric Earth Ethic?
8.10 Feinberg the Tie that Binds Schweitzer and Goodpaster
8.11 Taylor's Individualistic Biocentrism and Regan's Case for Animal Rights
8.12 Taylor's Deontology and Teleological Centers of Life
8.13 Taylor's Biocentrism as a Foundation for a Leopold Earth Ethic?
8.14 Rolston's Biocentrism as a Foundation for a Leopold Earth Ethic?
8.15 Goodpaster's Biocentrism Provides the Best Theoretical Support for a Non-anthropocentric Earth Ethic

9. The Earth Ethic: A Critical Account of Its Anthropocentric Foundations: The Natural Contract and Environmental Virtue Ethics
9.1 No Need to Patronize Gaia with Biocentric Moral Considerability
9.2 The Concept of Anthropocentrism Revisited
9.3 War and Peace
9.4 The Social Contract: The Ancient and Modern Theories
9.5 Du Contrat Social au Contrat Naturel
9.6 War or Peace?
9.7 The French Connection: Larrère
9.8 The French Connection: Latour
9.9 The French-Canadian Connection: Dussault
9.10 Virtue Ethics
9.11 Aristotelian Virtue Ethics
9.12 Environmental Virtue Ethics
9.13 Holistic Virtue Ethics: Self-respecting Crafts
9.14 Holistic Virtue Ethics: The Polis as a Social Whole
9.15 Holistic Virtue Ethics: Nomos versus Phusis
9.16 Holistic Virtue Ethics: Self-respecting Societies
9.17 The Dialectic of Social-Contract Theory and Virtue Ethics

10. The Earth Ethic: A Critical Account of Its Anthropocentric Foundations—The limits of Rational Individualism
10.1 The Year was 1988 and Serres and Jamieson were the First Philosophical Responders
10.2 Jamieson Frames the Theoretical Problem: The Legacy of Smith-and-Jones Ethical Theory
10.3 Jamieson Suggests an Alternative Moral Philosophy-Virtue Ethics
10.4 The Moral Ontology and Logic of Smith-and-Jones Ethical Thinking
10.5 The Essence-and-Accident Moral Ontology of Rational Individualism
10.6 Homo Economicus and Homo Ethicus-Two Sides of the Same Rational Coin
10.7 Saving Rational Individualism: Moral Mathematics
10.8 Saving Rational Individualism: Proximate Ethical Holism
10.9 The Failure of Rational Individualism: Protracted Spatial Scale
10.10 The Failure of Rational Individualism: Protracted Temporal Scale
10.11 The Role of "Theoretical Ineptitude" in Gardiner's Perfect Moral Storm

11. The Earth Ethic: A Critical Account of Its Anthropocentric Foundations—Responsibility to Future Generations and for Global Human Civilization
11.1 Moral Ontology: Relationally Defined and Constituted Moral Beings
11.2 Moral Ontology: Ethical Holism
11.3 Moral Psychology: The Moral Sentiments
11.4 Responsibility to Immediate Posterity
11.5 Responsibility to the Unknown Future Equals Responsibility for Global Human Civilization
11.6 Summary and Conclusion

"Some Fundamentals of Conservation in the Southwest"—by Aldo Leopold


Customer Reviews


J. Baird Callicott is University Distinguished Research Professor at the University of North Texas. He is co-Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy and author or editor of a score of books and author of dozens of journal articles, encyclopedia articles, and book chapters. His research goes forward on three main fronts: theoretical environmental ethics, comparative environmental philosophy, philosophy of ecology and conservation biology. He taught the world's first course in environmental ethics in 1971 at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

By: J Baird Callicott(Author)
374 pages, b/w illustrations
Media reviews

"Baird Callicott's magisterial book brings together science and philosophy in a fascinating search for an ethic that truly responds to the global-scale reality of today's most pressing environmental concerns. Highly recommended."
– James Gustave Speth, author of America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy, and former dean, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

"Aldo Leopold's Land Ethic was one of the great philosophical (and practical) developments of the 20th century, and Now J. Baird Callicott manages to extend its scale dramatically. Trenchant and fascinating."
– Bill McKibben, author of Oil and Honey: The Making of an Unlikely Activist

"An innovative, pioneering, and powerful synthesis of Aldo Leopold's ethics. Callicott broadens Leopold's well-known land ethic by identifying within his writings a comprehensive Earth ethic that is global in scope. Together the two ethics entail sentient community insights and planetary visions. Anyone who seeks a moral grounding for current conservation, resource, and environmental actions will want to read this book."
– Carolyn Merchant, Professor of Environmental History, Philosophy, and Ethics at University of California Berkeley and author of The Death of Nature; Ecological Revolutions; and Reinventing Eden

"Over the last four decades no one has done more to construct the intellectual framework of modern environmental ethics than J. Baird Callicott. Now, in this sweeping synthesis, Callicott draws upon an extraordinary breadth of insights from Western and non-Western philosophy, political theory, ecocriticism, religious studies, environmental history, the history of science, evolutionary biology, ecology, and earth science to provide the fullest development of his ideas. If we are to find our way forward in the 'Age of Consequences,' humanity will need to think anew about our history and our values, our prospects and our place in time. Callicott is an indispensable and challenging guide as we continue in this necessary task."
– Curt Meine, Senior Fellow, The Aldo Leopold Foundation and author of Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work

"abundantly stimulating and vital contribution to Leopold scholarship, climate ethics and environmental philosophy [...] "
– Piers H.G Stephens, Environmental Values

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