Volume 31, Issue 1, Spring 2009
The Ethics of “Following Nature” in Forestry
Academic Forest Scientists and Rolston’s Environmental Ethics
Analysis of academic forest scientists’ ethical reasoning and values given decision-making scenarios indicates that Holmes Rolston, III’s value theory, specifically his ethics of “following nature” is an important and current environmental ethics in forestry. Nevertheless, while academic forest scientists appear to espouse “following nature” in decision making, they also make use of numerous other values and ethics. Academic forest scientists’ moral reasoning is more akin to a pragmatic approach to decision making rather than an approach based on building or advocating an internally consistent and coherent moral position. Rolston’s environmental ethics is relevant and useful to decision making in forestry if it is interpreted as one among various value theories used to guide decision making rather than an ethical theory to be accepted or rejected en bloc.