Philosophical and Theological Critiques of
Broadening Environmental Ethics from Ecocentric and
In human history, we have learned (I hope) that the conqueror role is eventually
self-defeating. Why? Because it is implicit in such a role that the conqueror
knows, ex cathedra, just what makes the community clock tick, and just what
and who is valuable, and what and who is worthless, in community life. It al-
ways turns out that he knows neither, and this is why his conquests eventually
defeat themselves. In the biotic community, a parallel situation exists.
—Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
The moral stance of the religious view I am affirming pays deeply its respect to
nature, but since conflict or dissonance, as well as harmony and consonance are
part of nature and our place in it, the moral stance itself does not resolve envi-
ronmental ethical issues. The purposes of nature, relative to "anything that ex-
ists" and to the interdependence of all, are conflictual relative to the human
good and even various "goods" of the nonhuman world. We have to ask,
"Good for what?" "Good for whom?"
—James Gustafson, A Sense of the Divine
We understand, in spite of our wishes, that nature moves and changes and in-
volves risks and uncertainties and that our judgments of our own actions must
be made against this moving image. The message of this book is consistent with
the ethical outlook … that "nature is not to be conquered save on her own
terms." I have simply tried to give a modern view of "her " terms. It is· also con-
sistent with the land ethic of Aldo Leopold.
—Daniel Botkin, Discordant Harmonies