Aldo Leopold, “The Land Ethic” Essay Samples
What does he mean by terms like “ethical structure” and “ethical criteria”? How are the ethical structure and ethical criteria of Odysseus’ society different from ours? How do you explain why it is so different from ours?
An ethical structure is a representation of numerous programs, systems and positions a community takes in controlling and implementing ethical behavior. According to Aldo Leopold, a thing is right in the community when it attempts to preserve the beauty, stability, and integrity of the biotic community. It is wrong when it does the opposite of what is stated. On the other hand, the ethical criterion is a way of deciding whether an action is wrong or right. Leopold describes the land: the soil, water, animals, and plants of the world as a community clock that highlights the interdependent organization of the land. He, therefore, says that it is man’s responsibility to control and effect the radical changes in the biotic community. The ethical structure and ethical criteria of Odysseus society is different from ours because it covered wives regardless of the fact that it had not been extended to human possessions. However, today, the ethical structure and criteria has been extended to many other fields of conduct. The ethical structure of Odysseus society was so different because there definition of what is wrong and right was different from ours, and the change has been brought about by evolution.
Do you think that this is an interesting opening? How does the opening serve Leopold’s purpose of defining 1) what he means by a land ethic and 2) how he expects a land ethic to become a real part of the human ethical structure?
I find the opening interesting because it reflects on the journey that ethical structure and criterion has taken over the years. By stating that what was happening in Odysseus society happened 3, 000 years ago gives the room that change is possible to better conservation of the environment as a lot of changes have taken place so far. The opening serves Leopold’s purpose of defining land ethics by emphasizing that man makes ethics; hence, man can choose ethics that are favorable for both land and man. Therefore, it is evident that Leopold insists that land ethics is manmade.
Looking at the first sentence in ethical sequence section, Leopold means that ethics keeps changing to suit societal needs. He goes ahead to define an ethic ecologically as a limitation of freedom action in the struggle for existence. Here, he means that as much as freedom is limited to uphold ethics, it should not affect communal operations. Secondly, Leopold defines an ethic philosophically as a differentiation of social from anti-social conduct. Here, he means that ethics major purpose is to control, direct, correct and observes behavior. Leopold makes the ethical sequence more complex in page 20 by stating that the community boundaries includes the plants, soil, water and animals. Ethical sequence according to Leopold
In conclusion, the conqueror’s role is self-defeating in history. The conqueror is aware of what is acceptable of not in the community. For example, Abraham was aware of what he needed from the land, which was honey and milk in his mouth. According to Leopold, the community concept is, therefore, defined by the societal needs of a particular time. Historical times keep changing, and so is the ecological interpretation of history.
Aldo Leopold. The Land Ethics. Basingstoke: PalgraveMacmillan, 1948. Print.