IN HIS ESSAY “The Land Ethic,” environmentalist Aldo Leopold tells a story from The Odyssey in which Odysseus, upon returning to Troy, hangs a dozen slave girls for misbehaving in his absence. The act, Leopold writes, was not one of ethics but of property: “The ethical structure of that day ... had not yet been extended to human chattels.” Leopold uses this as an example of how our ethical structure has expanded over history. This expansion of the moral circle is a common thread in history, encompassing, slowly, people and things that were once outside moral consideration.
Our Ethical Structure
Already a subscriber? Login