Gardens and Ethics

  • Marcello Di Paola
Part of the The International Library of Environmental, Agricultural and Food Ethics book series (LEAF, volume 25)


This chapter argues that working in gardens can disclose and enable the exploration of important sources of meaning in and for our lives in the Anthropocene. This will happen in the process of developing and exercising attitudinal and behavioural dispositions that are enabled and required by the correct performance of the practice of gardening. Such process moulds character and is in turn reinforced by the character that it moulds – by the behavioral and attitudinal dispositions that it enables and requires individuals to develop and exercise. These dispositions are the virtues of gardening. Six of these virtues are thematically discussed.


Urban gardens Urban gardening Anthropocene Plants Virtues Meaning Practice 


  1. Appiah, Anthony. 2008. Experiments in Ethics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Baumeister, Roy. 1992. Meanings in Life. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  3. Benyus, Janine M. 1997. Biomimicry: Innovation inspired by nature. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.Google Scholar
  4. Brook, Isis. 2010. The Virtues of Gardening. In Gardening. Philosophy for Everyone: Cultivating Wisdom, ed. Dan O’Brien, 13–25. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.Google Scholar
  5. Campbell, Stephen M., and Sven Nyholm. 2015. Anti-Meaning and Why It Matters. Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1 (4): 694–711.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Carr, David, and Jan Steutel, eds. 1999. Virtue Ethics and Moral Education. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Carson, Rachel. 1956. The Sense of Wonder. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  8. Cavell, Stanley. 1979. The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein. Skepticism: Morality and Tragedy, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  9. Chamberlain, Kerry, and Sheryl Zika. 1992. Stability and Change in Subjective Well-Being Over Short Time Periods. Social Indicators Research 26 (2): 101–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clark, A.T. 1992. Humility. In Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. D.H. Ludlow, 663–664. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  11. Cooper, David E. 2006. A Philosophy of Gardens. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Crumbauch, James, and Leonard Maholick. 1964. An Experimental Study in Existentialism: The Psychometric Approach to Frankl’s Concept of Noogenic Neurosis. Journal of Clinical Psychology 20 (2): 200–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Di Paola, Marcello. 2015a. Virtues for the Anthropocene. Environmental Values 24: 183–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. ———. 2015b. When Ethics and Aesthetics are One and the Same: A Wittgensteinian Perspective on Natural Value. Journal for the Study of Nature, Religion, and Culture 9 (1): 19–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Doris, John. 2002. Lack of Character: Personality and Moral Behavior. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fava, Giovanni, and Per Bech. 2016. The Concept of Euthymia. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics 85 (1): 1–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gambrel, Joshua, and Philip Cafaro. 2010. The Virtue of Simplicity. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 23: 85–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gardiner, Stephen. 2011. A perfect moral storm: The ethical tragedy of climate change. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Giesecke, Annette, and Naomi Jacobs. 2015. The Good Gardener? Nature, Humanity and the Garden. London: Artifice Inc..Google Scholar
  20. Godlovitch, Stanley. 1994. Icebreakers: Environmentalism and Natural Aesthetics. Journal of Applied Philosophy 11 (1): 15–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Harrison, Robert P. 2008. Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hepburn, Ronald. 1965. Questions About the Meaning of Life. Reprinted in The Meaning of Life, 2nd ed, ed. E.D. Klemke, 261–276. New York: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  23. Hester, Randolph T. 2006. Design for ecological democracy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  24. Jamieson, Dale W. 2007. When Utilitarians Should Be Virtue Theorists. Utilitas 19 (2): 160–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. ———. 2014. Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed, and What It Means for Our Future. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kahn, Charles. 1985. Democritus and the Origins of Moral Psychology. American Journal of Philology 106 (1): 1–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Katz, Eric. 2000. The Big Lie. In Environmental Restoration, ed. W. Throop, 83–93. Amherst: Humanity.Google Scholar
  28. Kleinig, John. 2013. Loyalty. In The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy, ed. Edward N. Zalta. Accessed 19 Oct 2017.
  29. King, L.A., J.A. Hicks, J.L. Krull, and A.K. Del Gaiso. 2006. Positive Affect and the Experience of Meaning of Life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 90 (1): 179–196. Scholar
  30. Levy, Neil. 2005. Downshifting and Meaning in Life. Ratio 18 (2): 176–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Locke, Edwin A., and Gary P. Latham. 2002. Building a Practically Useful Theory of Goal Setting and Task Motivation: A 35-Year Odyssey. American Psychologist 57 (9): 705–717.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Loder, Reed E. 2011. Gratitude and the Environment: Toward Individual and Collective Ecological Virtue. J Juris 10: 383–435.Google Scholar
  33. Lovibond, Sabina. 2007. In Spite of the Misery of the World: Ethics, Contemplation, and the Source of Value. In Wittgenstein and the Moral Life: Essays in Honor of Cora Diamond, ed. Alice Crary, 305–326. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  34. MacIntyre, Alasdair. 1981. After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  35. Markus, Arjan. 2003. Assessing Views of Life, A Subjective Affair? Religious Studies 39 (2): 125–143.Google Scholar
  36. May, Todd. 2015. A Significant Life: Human Meaning in a Silent Universe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. McGregor, Ian, and Brian Little. 1989. Personal Projects, Happiness, and Meaning: On Doing Well and Being Yourself. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74 (2): 494–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. McKibben, Bill. 1989. The End of Nature. New York: Anchor.Google Scholar
  39. Newton, Lisa. 2003. Ethics and Sustainability: Sustainable Development and the Moral Life. Prentice Hall: Upper Saddle River.Google Scholar
  40. Nielsen, Kai. 1964. Linguistic Philosophy and ‘The Meaning of Life’. Reprinted in The Meaning of Life, 1981, ed. E.D. Klemke, 177–204. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Pianalto, Matthew. 2013. Humility and Environmental Virtue Ethics. In Virtues in Action: New Essays in Applied Virtue Ethics, ed. Michael Austin. London: Palgrave-Macmillan.Google Scholar
  42. Plumwood, Val. 2002. Environmental Culture and the Ecological Crisis of Reason. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  43. Pollan, Michael. 1991. Second Nature. New York: Dell Publishing.Google Scholar
  44. Prinz, Jesse. 2009. The Normativity Challenge: Cultural Psychology Provides the Real Threat to Virtue Ethics. The Journal of Ethics 13: 117–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Raffensperger, Carolyn. 2002. Learning to Speak Ethics in Technological Debates. In Engineering the Farm: Ethical and Social Aspects of Agricultural Biotechnology, ed. B. Bailey and M. Lappe, 125–133. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
  46. Rawls, John. 1955. Two Concepts of Rules. The Philosophical Review 64: 3–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Richards, Norvin. 1992. Humility. Temple: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Sandler, Ronald L. 2007. Character and Environment: A Virtue-Oriented Approach to Environmental Ethics. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Scheffler, Samuel. 2013. Death and the Afterlife. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Seligman, Martin. 2002. Authentic Happiness. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  51. ———. 2011. Flourish. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  52. Sennett, Richard. 2008. The Craftsman. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  53. Snow, Nancy E. 2010. Virtue as Social Intelligence: An Empirically Grounded Theory. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  54. Thomson, Garrett. 2003. On the Meaning of Life. South Melbourne: Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  55. Thompson, Michael. 2008. Life and Action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Treanor, Brian. 2010. Environmentalism and Public Virtue. In Virtue Ethics and the Environment, ed. Philip Cafaro and Ronald Sandler, 9–28. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  57. Viljoen, André, Katrin Bohn, and Joe Howe. 2005. Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes: Designing Urban Agriculture for Sustainable Cities. Oxford: Architectural Press.Google Scholar
  58. Welchman, Jennifer. 1999. The Virtues of Stewardship. Environmental Ethics 21 (4): 411–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wensveen, Louke van. 2000. Dirty Virtues: The Emergence of Ecological Virtue Ethics. Amherst: Prometheus.Google Scholar
  60. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1953. Philosophical Investigations. London: Basil Blackwell Ltd..Google Scholar
  61. ——— 1979. Notebooks 1914–1916. Trans. G.E.M. Anscombe. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  62. Wohlgennant, Rudolf. 1981. Has the Question About the Meaning of Life Any Meaning?. Reprinted in Life and Meaning: A Reader, 1987, ed. O. Hanfling, 34–38. Cambridge: Basic Blackwell Inc.Google Scholar
  63. Wolf, Susan. 2010. Meaning in Life and Why It Matters. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcello Di Paola
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Ethics and Global PoliticsLUISS UniversityRomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversity Of ViennaViennaAustria

Personalised recommendations