Write a short, objective summary about “The Land Ethic” by Aldo Leopold of 250-500 words which summarizes the main ideas being put forward by the author in this selection.


Reading Summaries should be a minimum of one page and a maximum of two pages long (250-500 words).
Reading Summaries require that you read the entire assignment, then write a short summary that identifies the thesis and outlines the main argument. Reading summaries are not about your opinion or perspective – they are expository essays that explain the content of the reading. (You will share your view when writing the Essay Discussion posts.)
When writing Reading Summaries, you may not quote the author without proper citations. In other words, if you use the exact words of the original author (copy-paste) you MUST do a proper citation. Similarly, if you use any other website (such as Wikipedia, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, etc.) you must cite the source. Failure to cite sources properly is in violation of the Zero Tolerance for Plagiarism Policy.


an area usable either for recreation, or for science, or for
wildlife, but the creation of new wilderness in the full sense
of the word is impossible.

It follows, then, that any wilderness program is a rear-
guard action, through which retreats are reduced to a mini-
mum. The Wilderness Society was organized in 1935 ‘for
the one purpose of saving the wilderness remnants in

It does not suffice, however, to have such a society. Unless
there be wilderness-minded men scattered through all the
conservation bureaus, the society may never learn of new
invasions until the time for action has passed. Furthermore
a militant minority of wilderness-minded citizens must be
on watch throughout the nation, and available for action in
a pinch.

In Europe, where wilderness has now reh·eated to the
Carpathians and Siberia, every thinking conservationist be-
moans its loss. Even in Britain, which has less room for land-
luxuries than almost any other civilized country, there is a
vigorous if belated movement for saving a few small spots
of semi-wild land.

Ability to see the cultural value of wilderness boils down,
in the last analysis, to a question of intellectual humility.
The shallow-minded modern who has lost his rootage in the
land assumes that he has already disGovered what is im-
portant; it is such who prate of empires, political or eco-
nomic, that will last a thousand years. It is only the scholar
who appreciates that all history consists of successive excur-

, sions from a single starting-point, to which man returns again
and again to organize yet another search for a durable scale
of values. It is only the scholar who understands why the

[ 200]


raw wilderness gives definition and meaning to the human

The Land Ethic

When god-like Odysseus returned from the wars in Troy,
he hanged all on one rope a dozen slave-girls of his house-
hold whom he suspected of misbehavior during his absence.

This hanging involved no question of propriety. The girls
were property. The disposal of property was then, as now, a
matter of expediency, not of right and wrong.

Concepts of right and wrong were not lacking from Odys-
seus’ Greece: witness the fidelity of his wife through the

r 2011




long years before at last his black-prowed galleys clove the
wine-dark seas for home. The ethical structure of that day
covered wives, but had not yet been extended to human
chattels. During the three thousand years which have since
elapsed, ethical criteria have been extended to many fields
of conduct, with corresponding shrinkages in those judged
by expediency only.

The Ethical Sequence

This extension of ethics, so far studied only by philosophers,
is actually a process in ecological evolution. Its sequences
may be described in ecological as well as in philosophical

,/ terms. An ethie, ecologically, is a lirqitation o

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