Agrarian Philosophy and Ecological Ethics

  • Paul B. Thompson
Original Paper


Mainstream environmental ethics grew out of an approach to value that was rooted in a particular conception of rationality and rational choice. As weaknesses in this approach have become more evident, environmental philosophers have experimented with both virtue ethics and with pragmatism as alternative starting points for developing a more truly ecological orientation to environmental philosophy. However, it is possible to see both virtue ethics and pragmatism as emerging from older philosophical traditions that are here characterized as “agrarian.” Agrarian philosophy stresses the role of nature, soil and climate in the formation of moral character as well as social and political institutions. As such, reaching back to the agrarian tradition may provide a way to move forward with both virtue oriented themes as well as pragmatist themes in developing ecological ethics.


Pragmatism Virtue ethics Intrinsic value Rational choice 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.W.K. Kellogg Professor of Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics, Department of PhilosophyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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