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A Good That TranscendsHow US Culture Undermines Environmental Reform$
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Eric T. Freyfogle

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226326085

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226326252.001.0001

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Thinking, Talking, and Culture

Thinking, Talking, and Culture

(p.175) Conclusion Thinking, Talking, and Culture
A Good That Transcends

Eric T. Freyfogle

University of Chicago Press

Today’s environmental ills stem in significant part from aspects of modern culture. Environmental-reform efforts, accordingly, need to focus far more than they have on cultural change. This chapter reviews the problematic aspects of current culture, drawing upon the work of Leopold, Berry, Orr, and Pope Francis and upon the lessons embedded in contemporary wilderness debates, the tale of the tragedy of the commons, and widely accepted ideas of private ownership. Needed reforms would divert society in a more communitarian direction, one that recognizes and seeks to strengthen interconnections and interdependencies, that returns important normative choices to the public realm, and that embraces the common good as something more than the summed preferences of individuals. The chapter ends with a proposal for a unified, well-orchestrated reform push that aims above all at promoting new ways of seeing, thinking, and valuing nature and gives primacy to visions of lasting community health. It contrasts this reform starkly with progressive civil-rights reform efforts and the liberty-equality-diversity moral language that dominates it, stressing how the work for healthy lands needs to head in a much different moral direction.

Keywords:   Aldo Leopold, common good, communitarian, cultural change, environmental reform, Pope Francis, Wendell Berry

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