Aldo Leopold’s land ethic takes root in both metaphor and empathy. The use of metaphor and empathy in cultivating the land ethic has profound implications for our relations with the environment, both personal and political. I hope to show that these implications are positive and help us to realize the ethical extension vital to ensuring human harmony with nature. In pursuit of this, I first provide a deeper look into metaphor, empathy, alterity, and their overlap. I then put these ideas into the context of Leopold’s land ethic as described in A Sand County Almanac. Then I dissect the philosophical implications of metaphor and empathy in an environmental ethic. Finally, I suggest representation as a pragmatic instantiation of the ethic prescribed by metaphor and empathy. At the end of all, I think, is a compelling case made for the vital integration of more subjective modes of inquiry into the realm of ethics.
Includes bibliographical references