Leopold’s Land Ethic and Critical Feminist Interpretation
Keywords:Aldo Leopold, ecofeminism, receptivity, Nel Noddings, ethics of care
Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac emphasizes values of receptivity and perceptivity that appear to be mutually reinforcing, critical to an ecological conscience, and cultivatable through concrete and embodied experience. His priorities bear striking similarities to elements of the ethics of care elaborated by feminist philosophers, especially Nel Noddings, who notably recommended receptivity, direct and personal experience, and even shared Leopold’s attentiveness to joy and play as sources of moral motivation. These commonalities are so fundamental that ecofeminists can and should see Leopold as a philosophical ally. The three ecofeminist scholars who have devoted the most concerted attention to Leopold’s work argue that his Land Ethic is not, and does not provide a basis for, an ecofeminist ethic. I dispute the main criticisms of these scholars, and conclude that ecofeminists should attend more often to Leopold’s work, which extends possibilities for excellent praxis.
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