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					    From the Aldo Leopold Land Ethic
     to the Rachel Carson Sea Ethic
                      for
     The Future of Marine Biodiversity:
the Known, the Unknown, and the Unknowable
                organized by
       Center of Marine Biodiversity
   Scripps Institution of Oceanography
                      on
            April 22, 2005
by J. Baird Callicott

Visiting Professor of Philosophy
Visiting Professor of Forestry and Environmental Studies
Bioethicist-in-Residence
Yale University 2004-2005                               research assisted by
                                                        Elyssa Back
Professor of Philosophy and Religion Studies            School of Management
Institute of Applied Sciences                           Yale University
University of North Texas                                         &
                                                        Priscilla Solis Ybarra
                                                        Department of English
                                                        Rice University




                                               QuickTime™ and a
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                 A UNT Department of Philosophy Initiative
                      Irene Klaver, Director
Aldo Leopold (1887-1948)

his “land ethic” the ethic-of-
choice among contemporary
environmentalists and
conservation biologists

based on evolutionary biology
and ecology

“changes the role of Homo
sapiens from conqueror of the
land-community to plain
member and citizen of it . . .
implies respect for fellow
members and also for the
community as such”
Can the Leopold land ethic be transposed from the
terrestrial environment (in and for which it was
conceived) to the marine environment?
                     that is,
Can the land ethic double as a sea ethic?

Yes and No

Yes—to the extent that we can find the kind of biotic
communities with which we can relate as plain
members and citizens.

No—to the extent that the marine environment is alien,
“other,” and “different”

The land ethic may be complemented by an autonomous
sea ethic first suggested by Rachel Carson in
Under the Sea Wind
The conceptual foundations of the Leopold land ethic
      borrowed from Charles Darwin’s Descent of Man


                   “No tribe could hold together if murder, robbery,
                   treachery &c. were common; hence such crimes,
                   within the limits of the same tribe, are „branded
                   with everlasting infamy.‟”

                   If the “tribe” cannot hold together—> members
                   would perish / fail to reproduce.

Ethics evolved by natural selection as a means to social organization
       Vital to the inclusive fitness of individual members.

Raw material for the evolution of society: mammalian parental
     and filial affections + social instincts and sympathy
Expanded by natural selection to siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc.
     to create the human ur-society
The conceptual foundations of the Leopold land ethic
      borrowed from Charles Darwin’s Descent of Man

                 Ethics proper emerges when Homo sapiens
                    acquires:

                 (1) intelligence: trace the causal sequence from
                     action to effect on society

                 (2) imagination: envision the effect on society
                     of similar actions

                  (3) language: codify prohibitions on anti-social
                     actions

LEMMA: Ethics and society (community) are correlative

COROLLARY: As society evolves, ethics evolve in parallel
 The conceptual foundations of the Leopold land ethic
       borrowed from Charles Darwin’s Descent of Man

                 Extended family (clan) — Self-sacrifice

                 Tribe                 —      Gift economy

                 Nation                —      Property rights

                 Nation state          —      Patriotism

                 Global village        —      Universal human rights

“As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into
larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual
that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the
members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him.
This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to
prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races”
    To this Darwinian foundation, Leopold added an
                       QuickTime™ and a
                                   borrowed from Charles Elton
    ecological ingredient this picture.
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                                                          (1900-1991)
                        The community paradigm

                        the biota is organized like human societies

                        each plant and animal occupies a niche, a
                        role or profession in the economy of nature

                        Darwin in a nutshell: “All ethics so far evolved
                        rest on a single premise: that the individual
                        is a member of a community of interdependent
parts. His instincts prompt him to compete for his place in that
community, but his ethics prompt him also to cooperate”

The Eltonian ingredient: Ecology “simply enlarges the
boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and
animals, or collectively: the land.”
 Some implications of the Leopold land ethic

                   All species “should continue as a matter of biotic
                   right regardless of . . . economic advantage to us.”

                   “No special interest has a right to exterminate
                   them for the sake of a benefit, real or fancied, to
                   itself.”

                   We must evince “love, respect, and admiration for
                   land, and a high regard for its value. By value, I
                   of course mean something far broader than mere
                   economic value, I mean value in the philosophical
                   sense.”—that is, intrinsic value.

The Golden Rule of the Land Ethic: “A thing is right when it tends
to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic
community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
Can the Leopold land ethic be transposed from the
terrestrial environment (in and for which it was
conceived) to the marine environment?
                     that is,
Can the land ethic double as a sea ethic?

Yes—to the extent that we can find the kind of biotic
communities with which we can relate as plain
members and citizens.

And fellow-members that we can love, respect, and
admire
Can the Leopold land ethic be transposed from the
terrestrial environment (in and for which it was
conceived) to the marine environment?
                     that is,
Can the land ethic double as a sea ethic?

No—to the extent that the marine environment is alien, “other,”
and “different”

The land ethic may be complemented by an autonomous sea
ethic first suggested by Rachel Carson in Under the Sea Wind
Rachel Carson (1907-1964)

        Silent Spring (1962) launched the modern
                American environmental movement
                       evinces ethical concern for
                              human health
                              ecosystem health
                              species preservation

        Pre-Silent Spring, Carson a best-selling author
               of ocean-oriented books

        Under the Sea Wind (1941)

        The Sea Around Us (1951)

        The Edge of the Sea (1955)
Evolutionary Foundations of the Carson Sea Ethic

              Like the Leopold land ethic, Carson sea ethic also
                     erected on Darwinian footing—but Darwin
                     of Origin of Species, not Descent of Man

              Carson emphasizes competition and individual
                    life-death struggle for survival

              “The taste of blood was in the water. As though
              maddened by it, the bluefish slashed to right and
              left. They drove through the center of the anchovy
              school, scattering the ranks of the smaller fish so
              that they darted in panic and confusion in every
              direction. Many dashed to the surface and leaped
              through into the strange element beyond. There
              they were seized by the hovering gulls, companion
              fishers of the bluefish. “
  Ecosystemic Foundations of the Carson Sea Ethic
                    “Of the millions of mackerel eggs . . . thousands
                    went no farther than the first stages of the
                    journey into life until they were seized and eaten
                    by the comb jellies, to be speedily converted into
                    the watery tissue of their foe and in this re-
                    incarnation to roam the sea, preying on their
                    own kind.”
                           Like Raymond Lindeman’s energy flow
                                   and materials cycle

Ecological Foundations of the Carson Sea Ethic
“Each of the roe fish would shed in a season more than a hundred
thousand eggs. From these perhaps only one or two young would
survive the perils of river and sea and return to spawn, for by such
ruthless selection the species is kept in check.”
    Like Lotka-Volterra Logistic-equation of population equilibria
Pioneer Limnologist, Stephen Forbes, possible influence
“In this lake, . . . competitions are fierce and continuous beyond any
parallels in the worst periods of human history; . . . they take hold,
not on goods of life merely, but always upon life itself; . . . mercy and
charity and sympathy and magnanimity and all the virtues are
utterly unknown; . . . robbery and murder and the deadly tyranny
of strength over weakness are the unvarying rule; what we call
wrongdoing is always triumphant, and what we call goodness would
be fatal to its possessor.”    —”The Lake as a Microcosm” (1887)
But what is bad for the individual is good for the whole
“Out of these hard conditions an order has been evolved which is
best conceivable without a total change in the conditions themselves;
an equilibrium has been reached and is steadily maintained that
actually accomplishes for all the parties involved the greatest good
which the circumstances will at all permit. In a system where life is
the universal good, but the destruction of life the well-nigh universal
occupation, an order has spontaneously arisen which consistently
tends to maintain life at the highest limit.”
Most traditional Western ethics based on sameness:
       finding commonality

All humans are created in the image of God—religion-based ethics

All humans are rational—classical philosophy-based ethics

All humans are brothers and sisters under the skin—Civil Rights
      ethic

All vertebrate animals are sentient—animal rights ethic

All organisms have interests and goods of their own—biocentric ethic

Humans, plants, animals, soils, waters are equally members of the
     same biotic community—Leopold land ethic
  A new “Post-modern” movement in Western ethics
    advocates ethics based on otherness and difference

                    One source: philosopher Immanuel Levinas
                          (1905-1995) and his concept of the “Other”

                    Another source: anti-Liberal feminists, e.g.,
                          Luce Irigaray (1930-)



Ethics based on sameness can exert pressure to
conform, assimilate, measure up to the norm
represented by the paradigm case—the
masculine norm (for oppositional feminism),
the Western norm (for oppositional cultures),
the white/anglo norm (for oppositional ethnicities),
the human norm for (oppositional environmental ethics)
 Henry Beston (1888-1968) an acknowledged influence
       on Rachel Carson

                    “We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more
                    mystical concept of animals. . . . We patronize
                    them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate
                    of having taken form so far below ourselves. And
                    therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal
                    shall not be measured by man. In a world older
                    and more complete than ours they move finished
                    and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses
                    we have lost or never attained, living by voices
we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings;
they are other nations. Caught with ourselves in the net of life
and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.”

              —Outermost House (1929)
       Henry Beston an acknowledged influence
                    “And what of Nature itself, you say—that callous
                    and cruel engine, red in tooth and fang? . . .
                    It is true that there are grim arrangements.
                    Beware of judging them by whatever human
                    values are in style. As well expect Nature to
                    answer to your human values as to come into
                    your house and sit in a chair. The economy of
                    nature, its checks and balances, its measurements
                    of competing life—all this is its great marvel and
                    has an ethic of its own.”     —Outermost House
“Here is the glimpse of nature in the full cosmic perspective—nature
portrayed in her inexhaustible variety and gigantic ruthlessness.
Here is the element of nightmare, here the haunting element of
chance, here the splendor and the terror and the beauty of the
waters and the air. There is never the slightest humanizing of the
creature or its world, for which may Miss Carson be ever blest. Her
world of the sea and air is ruled by its own gods and its own values.”
Wild nature as Otherness and Difference incarnate


“A wilderness in contrast with those areas where man and his
own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an
area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled
by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”
                                   —Wilderness Act of 1964

Science, as well as technology, attempts to trammel—”to catch or
hold, as if in a net”—nature

Science is a network of ideas/concepts that attempts to ensnare
the natural world, to make us the noetic masters of nature

The UNKNOWN and the UNKNOWABLE are the untrammeled
and the untrammelable—the essence of wildness
                         Wild nature as Otherness and
                         Difference incarnate

                            Steven Vogel (1954-)
                        “In all our actions to transform the world . . .
                        there is an inescapable moment of otherness,
                        of resistance, of unexpected consequences and
unanticipated side-effects—and we could call that moment „nature,‟
which comes to stand precisely for our inevitable failure, and to
appear as the intractable Other of . . . the attempt to understand
and control everything. . . All attempts by thought to grasp the
world will always leave something left over and ungrasped, and
„nature‟ is the name we give to this very fact—and so its vengeance
turns out to be central to what it is.”

Ethical implication: “a lesson about humility, about limits,
      and the need for care.”
  Leopold Land Ethic + Carson Sea Ethic = Earth Ethic
Both the Leopold land ethic and the Carson Sea Ethic scape-scaled:
       landscape and seascape

A global-/planetary- scale consciousness has emerged after 1969




                            Aldo Leopold, “Some Fundamentals
                            Of Conservation in the Southwest”
                            (1923)
  Planet Earth Ocean
                    The Earth (Ocean) Ethic
“Possibly in our intuitive perceptions . . . we realize the indivisibility
of the earth . . . and respect it collectively, not only as a useful
servant but as a living being, vastly less alive than ourselves in
degree, but vastly greater than ourselves in time and space—a being
that was old when the morning stars sang together, and when the last
of us has been gathered unto our fathers, will still be young.

“It is at least possible to regard the earth‟s parts . . . as organs or
parts of organs, of a coordinated whole, each part with a definite
function. . . . in such a case we would have all the visible attributes
of a living being, which we do not now realize to be such because it is
too big, and its life processes too slow. And there would also follow
that invisible attribute —a soul, or consciousness. . .”

This “suggests one reason why we cannot destroy the earth with
moral impunity; namely, the . . . earth is an organism possessing
a certain kind and degree of life, which we intuitively respect as such.”

				
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