Unearthing the process roots of environment ethics: Whitehead, Leopold, and the Land Ethic

International Social Science Journal (Chinese Edition)

No.2, 2020


Unearthing the process roots of  environment ethics:  Whitehead, Leopold, and the Land Ethic



Brian G. Henning


The aim of this essay is twofold. First, the author examines the role of Alfred North Whitehead and process thinkers in bringing about and shaping the field of environmental ethics. I show the important role Whitehead and Whiteheadian scholars, such as John Cobb Jr. and Charles Hartshorne, played in the beginning and development of the field. It is believed that Aldo Leopold’s “Land Ethic” might have been influenced by Whitehead, though all these might regretfully have been forgotten. Second, in light of the genealogy above, the author invite process scholars to reconsider their generally reluctant reception of Aldo Leopold and the Land Ethic. The article shows us that a version of land ethic grounded in a process axiology could make a significant contribution to contemporary environmental thought.