Building Receptivity

Leopold’s Land Ethic and Critical Feminist Interpretation


  • Kathryn J. Norlock Trent University



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.

Author Biography

  • Kathryn J. Norlock, Trent University
    The Kenneth Mark Drain Endowed Chair in Ethics and Professor of Philosophy, and author of Forgiveness from a Feminist Perspective (Lexington Books, 2008)


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How to Cite

Norlock, K. J. (2011). Building Receptivity: Leopold’s Land Ethic and Critical Feminist Interpretation. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 5(4), 491-509.