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The Land Ethic

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In the article “The Land Ethic” by Aldo Leopold, he argues that people need to treat the land better than we are now. Leopold believes that we should develop an ethical approach to using and caring for land. To demonstrate this, he compares the story of Odysseus and his slaves with land. In the story, the slave girls were considered property, and when they were hung, there were no consequences because they were his property (531). Leopold likens the slave girls to land. I believe that land does require certain conservation practices, but to compare land to people and assert that land deserves ethical treatment is absurd. Yes, land does require respect, but at the same time, it is still property.

While Leopold is describing land ethic, he explains what the role of humans is by stating that land ethic:

changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow members, and also respect for the community as such. (533)

As I stated earlier, I agree that property deserves respect, but I do not believe that one can go so far as to say that people and property are part of a community. There is, however, a balance between people and land. For instance, when property owners care for, respect, and maintain land, the land rewards them by being prosperous. On the other hand, when owners neglect and abuse land, the land will become less-yielding for crops.

Although Leopold is correct to assume a relationship between people and property exists, the relationship is not so intense that there is an ethical connection.

Leopard, Aldo. “The Land Ethic.” Open Questions: Readings for Critical Thinking and Writing. Ed. Chris Anderson and Lex Runciman. Boston: Bedford/St. Martain, 2005. 531-546.



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