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A Critique of Deep Ecology: Part II

A Critique of Deep Ecology
Part 11

Richard Sylvan

5. Beyond the value core: central metaphysical and epistemological ‘intuitions’ of deep ecology. Extension beyond
the value core is essential to explain how the core themes
can be maintained. In particular, it is required to explain
what values-in-nature suggests; how it is, and can be, that
natural items have value qualities independently of perceivers. That claim, reminiscent of naturalist claims concerning
secondary qualities such as colour, leads directly into epistemology, and on into the metaphysics of objects and systems, to the matter of what qualities, objects and systems
have of themselves, as opposed to projected onto them by
conscious observers.

An ecological holism has played an important motivational part in the evolution of deep ecology. Indeed (in 1980)
Sessions accounts ‘the wholeness and integrity of person/Nature, together with … egalitarianism’ as ‘perhaps the key
ideas in deep ecology’ (p. 7, rearranged) and Devall, not a
philosopher, says much the same, removing the ‘perhaps’.

Naess first starts out from a much stronger metaphysical
theme:

(1) Rejection of the man-in-environment image in
favour of the relational, total-field image. Organisms
as knots in the biospherical net or field of intrinsic
relations. An intrinsic relation between two things A
and B is such that the relation belongs to the definitions or basic constituents of A and B, so that without the relation, A and B are no longer the same
things. The total-field model dissolves … the manin-environment concept …

(1973, p. 35),
and indeed it dissolves the picture most ecologists, including
deep ones such as Sessions and Devall, thought they had
managed to acquire. For under this (idealistic) model there
are strictly no men or forests or mountains that also interrelate, no separable objects. As Warwick Fox correctly
remarks:

This ‘total-field’ conception dissolves not only the
notion of humans as separate· from their environment
but the very notion of the world as composed of discrete, compact, separate ‘things’. When we do talk
about the world (in quite ordinary ways) as if it were
a collection of discrete, isolable ‘things’ we are, in
Naess’s view, ‘talking at a superficial or preliminary
level of communication’.

(p. 194)
But being trapped at this ‘superficial level, is inevitable,
and not transcended by deeper ecologists. For there is no
way of communicating everything at once, no communication
without selection of components and so abstracting
from the whole.

Certainly, removing human apartheid and cutting back
human supremacy are crucial in getting the deeper value
theory going. But for this it is quite unnecessary to go the
full metaphysical distance of extreme holism, to the shocker

la

that there are r,o separate things in the world, no wilderness
to traverse or for Muir to save. A much less drastic holism
suffices for these purposes. It is enough to reject the excessive theses of individual reductionism, theses that tend to
fall down of their own accord. It is enough that certain
qualities, value in particular, applying to wholes, do not dissolve to qualities of the individual components. This moderate holism does not require the ‘total-field’ or other esoter ic metaphysical picture; familiar intensional systems
theory, among others, will serve for a background representation. Nor does holism undermine ordinary ways of talking
about the world; but rather it tends to endorse them while
countering individualistic modellings. In short, to reject individualism requires only moderate holism, not more extreme
forms. These points can be confirmed by appeal to patron
saints of deep ecology, such as Whitehead, Spinoza and
Heidegger, who would be dislodged from t-heir pedestals by
extreme holism.

The mistaken assumption that deep ecology does involve
extreme holism appears to be based on a false dichotomy
between mechanistic individualistic materialism and its holistic organisrnic opposite, paralleling that between shallow
and deep ecology – when with both contrasts there are various independent intermediate positions . Thus Fox proceeds to lambast shallow ecology for accepting a ‘discrete
entity’ metaphysics, which he equates with mechanistic materialism. In fact there is nothing in shallow ecology as characterised by Naess, or in the shallow position, to warrant
this. Shallowness is well-exemplified historically in a range
of non-materialist or non-mechanistic positions, such as
many of those of, or influenced by, German idealism. The
matrix of (occupied) positions is much larger than Naess and
the West Coasters have allowed.

A fallacious argument of considerable popularity has re··
in forced mistaken extreme assumptions. According to the
‘first law’ of ecology, everything is related to everything
else; that is, there is a ‘fundamental interrelatedness of all
things’ (Fox, p. 196), total connection. But connection implies a certain identification (‘the other is none other than
yourself’), whence total connection becomes total identity.

Everything is one. In this (‘Thou art That’) form the argument involves a crude fallacy: for that a is related to b,
e.g., sister of b, does not imply that a is identical with b.

Nor does the ‘first law’ tell against separable things, but in
fact is an analytic truth of relational logic, by virtue of the
fact that everything is. the same as or different from everything. A different form of the argument (also seized upon by
Fox, p. 8) commandeers elements of the idealistic theory of
internal relations: ‘all entities are constituted by their relationships’, which makes everything tightly intertwined to be
sure, rendering all connections necessary. But this consequence too is false: that a is wife of b does not imply that
a is necessarily wife of b, as a’ could easily have been, and
almost was, wife of b . And so the constitution theme is

~

false: a wombat is not constituted by the path it took, or
the trees it passed, on an evening’s foraging.

All this is to reject what Fox describes as ‘the central
intuition of deep ecology’ (p. 196), but looks like a terminal
form of idealism newly warmed-up, a form encapsulated in
James’s famous image of the world as a seamless whole. For
his ‘central intuition’ is nothing but the defective ‘totalfield’ picture, or as Fox also alternatively puts it: ‘the
world is not divided up into independently existing subjects
and objects…. Rather all entities are constituted by their
relationships’ (p. 196). The first part of the alternative way
of putting it hides, however, an Important ambiguity. A forest is not divided up (in a way that involves any act of dividing) into its constituent (interrelated) trees; but these
trees are distinct, and seperate one from another. Nor do, or
can, these trees exist entirely independently of anything
else; the systemic conditions for their continuing lives have
to be satisfied. However in the ordinary sense of ‘existing
independently’, trees in temperate forests often exist independently of other trees in a forest, and isolated trees survive virtual clear-felling of a forest, i.e. they continue a
clearly independent existence. It emerges, then, that correct
ways of expressing the systemic facts of interdependence do not involve extreme holism, but only certain levels
of interrelatedness – levels typically underestimated by managers and planners nonetheless.

Nowadays, we are told, any critique of deep ecology is
bound ‘to refer to the parallels between deep ecology, the
mystical traditions, and the so-called “new physics” (i.e.

post-1920s physics)’, as not to do so ‘might well indicate
that one has missed the central intuition of deep ecology
since, fundamentally, each of these fields of understanding
subscribes to a similar structure of reality, a similar cosmology’ (Fox, p. 194). ‘What is structurally similar about these
cosmologies’, Fox later reveals, referring to the latter two
fields, is that ‘they reveal a “seamless web” view of the universe’ (p. 196), ‘ … a similar conception of underlying (non-)structure of reality’. ‘Like the mystic and the “new physicist”, the deep ecologist is drawn to a cosmology of “.•• unbroken wholeness which denies the classical idea of the analyzabillty of the world into separately and independently
existing parts'” (p. 197). Thus the similarity of ‘structure’ of
these disparate fields – and any other synthetic field – is
the trivial one, that they share the erroneous central intuition of extreme holism. The fields are said to differ in their
methods of reaching this ‘insight’, that is ‘in their means of
arriving at an “ecological awareness” (p. 197). While the
fields do differ in methods, little else is right in all this.

The main theories reached differ substantially in themes
and principles; for instance, Schrodinger’s equation is no part
of mysticism or deep ecology, or of the theme of a separate
reality of contemporary physics or ecology. None, except
perhaps West Coast deep ecology, is committed in mainstream form to extreme holism. The main principles of each
are formulated in terms of interrelations of separate partly
independent items, e.g. photons, worlds, etc. These principles and themes have little to do with ecological wisdom
or awareness. Regrettably, both quantum theory under the
Copenhagen interpretation and much of the mystical tradition are unashamedly anthropocentric. In a conspicuous
·-;affe, Fox enthusiastically concedes as much, but for deep
as well as the other fields:

the fundamental ontology now being revealed can be
described as ‘largely dynamic, fluid, impermanent,
holistic, interconnected, interdependent, foundationless, self-consistent, empty, paradoxical, probabilistic, infinitely over-determined, and inextricably
linked to the consciousness of the observer, …

(Fox, p. 198, endorsing Walsh)
This is garbage and can mostly be assigned to the deep ecology rubbish basket (as we’ll see, a sizeable one is needed),
but the salient point is the last one. These observers – experimenters, contemplators, experiencers – are human ones.

As it h’!i)~enS, both quantum theory and (less urgently) mys-

;~cology

tlClsm have a range of interpretations, some of which are
neither anthropocentric nor observer-dependent. Accordingly, attempts based on the ‘new physics’, for instance, to
render consciousness integral to ontology and to any description of the world are entirely inconclusive .

The final indignity comes when Fox cuts his central intuition of deep ecology, with its anthropic encrustations,
loose from the standard egalitarian and like impartiality
principles (pp. 198ff.). For then the position he accounts
deep ecology becomes but a type of moral extension :

For take a shallow holism such as James’s radical empiricism
or Smuts’s holism , extend the values assigned beyond
the human base class (in a way reminiscent of Bentham’s
utilitarianism, but following Birch and Cobb) and perhaps
throw in some counter-cultural lifestyle principles: then we
have approximated Fox’s ‘deep ecology’. It appears that Fox
may be one who missed the central features of deep
ecology.

6. Ecological consciousness, and the psychological conversIon
of deep ecology. Verificationist transposition is strong in
ecothinkers as in most philosophers. There is a strong tendency to transpose differences in objects perceived into differences in perception of the objects and, deriving from
that, to subjectivise qualities. Valuational and emotional
qualities have been major casualties of this transposition
(certainly since Hume’s famous pronouncement that he could
find vice and beauty only in his heart – at which he did not
look, else he would not have found them there either). There
is an even stronger tendency to transfer all in tensional features to subjects who perceive these features (to thinking
subjects, or under behavioural reaction, to the acts and conventions of such subjects). So it has been even regarding
lower levels of intensionality, with necessity and probability
for example. All intensionality, typically represented as
mentalistic, has been concentrated in thinking or experiencing subjects. The rest of the objective world is drained of
these features leaving mere extension, flat material
objects.

Although they are aware that there is something seriously amiss with this kind of picture of the world, with the
(purely material) object/conscious subject bifurcation of
mainstream philosophy, in terms of which many perceived
features of the world, including value, are transposed and
concentrated in special subjects, still followers of deep ecology have too often succumbed to similar sorts of verlficationist transposition themselves. In particular, value is subjectivised to experience of value, wilderness applauded in
terms of wilderness experience, and so on. But the worst
excess of this broad type is the consciousness transposition,
which converts deep ecology into ecological consciousness.

‘Deep ecology’, an environmental science broadsheet
tells us, ‘is Naess’s expression for an ecological awareness or consciousness’. Spelling deep ecology out, then, becomes a matter of setting down the types of consciousness
and awareness and recognition involved, something that is
done in a thoroughly an~hropocentric way, beginning as follows: ‘a consciousness of the implications of ecology for
human being’. It is ~ in fact done in terms of human responses, capacities and psychology. Accordingl y, the approach
is fundamentally misconceived. For deep ecology is not so
anthropocentric, and is no more a matter of environmental
psychology than is the value theory or metaphysics which
are part of it. The psychological conversion is like claiming
that ‘Marxism’ is an expression for socialist consciousness,
or ‘music’ for musicological avareness.

The conversion of deep ecology into awareness psychology, into a certain sort of exercise in self-realisation or
‘liberating ecological consciousness, or consciousness raising’, is open to similar objections. Ecology, deep or shal.low
or systematic, is not ego-tripping or a personal thmg.

Granted those who do have and share certain attitudes and
feelings to natural environments are much more likely to
become active supporters or followers of deep ecology or to
11

adopt a deeper ecological ;:,tance, even so such states as
self-reallsa tion or ecological consciousness are neither necessary nor sufficient for this.

Such subjective states are not necessary because someone can become a supporter of deep ecology without having
attained, or made any effort to attain, these states. Thus
consider someone, a dedicated naturalist for instance, who
has no deep interest in or understanding of human psychology or sociology so far as these bear on the environment.

Such a person is a deep ecologist, but lacks ecological consciousness as it is explained (e.g. by the broadsheet). The
case of Peter Singer in the animal liberation movement is
instructive; for Singer goes out of his way to explain
his disinterest, his comparative lack of zoological consciousness, that he does not identify with animals and so on, yet
his impact for animal Ilberation has been most significant.

Analogously, a deeper Singer need not be in love with the
Earth but feel rather isolated from it and feel rightly that
most of its inhabitants dislike him or are frightened by him.

He may have little idea what it is Ilke to be one of them or
a mountain, but he may have the right values, adhere to the
right philosophy and, undertake the right sorts of action and
lifestyle.

Nor, even less, are the approved psychological states
sufficient. A person into self-realisation may have few or
none of the right value-attitudes towards the uninhabited
natural environment, but may indeed be rather shallow.

Naess tries to avoid this problem in the case of ecosophy by
auxlllary assumptions which guarantee that self-realisation
for one is self-realisation for all. But even if someone into
self-reallsa tion accepts the assumptions – which a shallow
self-interested or human-focused person may not – a greater
value assumption may also be held; so that only an intermediate position emerges:-With ecological consciousness the
result is similar: either shallow environmentallsm, such as’

that often exhibited by the wilderness-experienced city person or an intermediate position, such as that of the animal
llberationist or new-style Christian, depending on what goes
into the often-vague consciousness-package.

Ecological
depth is by no means assured.

Genuine and specifically deep ecological consciousness
has not been well described and is not particularly well defined. And some of the requirements imposed upon it, whatever it amounts to, render it impossible. Thus Fox, echoing
others, claims that ‘to the extent that we perceive boundaries, we fall short of a deep ecological consciousness’ (p.

196). Then we all fall short, since we are regularly confronted by, and perceive, territorial boundaries and a wide
range of other demarcation lines and contrasts. Indeed falling short is inevitable; for perception necessarlly involves
selection and discrimination, and hence separation and boundaries . Deep conscious-ness is also rendered impossible
by some of the identification requirements, drawn from
nature mysticism, which are imposed upon it. It is one thing
to be in tune with the universe (a metaphor that can be
spelled out), quite another, and impossible, feat to be identical with it, since then a proper part would be identical
with a whole containing it. Some explication of identification (trans-species and other) is important for the elaboration of deep ecology, but the relation involved (though it
concerns shared features, such as perhaps experiences) is
not one of identity or making identical, as simplistic etymology may suggest . Other requirements commonly placed
on deep consciousness, whlle they do not exclude it, render
it unduly anthropocentric.

None of this is to deny the importance of awareness,
sentiment, felt values, and their power as springs for action.

But environmental consciousness covers, and reflects, the
same range as environmental positions – which may be shallower as well as deep. For depth, then, it is important to
encourage and inculcate the right sort of consciousness, that
sort tied to deep principles. These principles accordingly
have a considerable independence of the experiential base,
as cases like that of deeper Singer already reveal. Thus it is
12

a mistake to aim or instil or deepen environmental consciousness first, before the problems of deep ecology are
addressed. Both can be done: no such priorities obtain. It is
an even grosser mistake to insist upon the need to ~hange
interpersonal relations before we address preservatiOn of
ecological diversity or of wllderness (Ecophilosophy VI, p.

13) . This would postpone, in a quite unnecessary,
decidedly shallow, and perhaps interminable way,. what calls
for immediate investigation and action. Better is the converse Tao theme that ‘human nature could never be brought
into order until there was some understanding of the way of
Nature’ (ibid., p. 18).

7. Paradigmatic expansions of deeper and shallower ecology.

The philosophical bases, elaborating the value. c~r~s, of
deeper and shallow~r positio.ns relate. in tw~ signifiCantly
different ways to wider theories. One is Naess s way of derivation (broadly construed) from philosophical, ideological or
religious bases, previously illustrated with the .case of ecosophy and a matching utilitarianism. The ot~er is the way of
paradigmatic expansion. Deep ecology, for mstance, e~pands
from its philosophical bases to a much lar~er theory, mdeed
it sometimes expands all the way to what is ~alled an alt~r­
native environmental paradigm, a social paradigm challengmg
the presently dominant paradigm. The. expan.sion is not uniquely determined, as there ca~ be var iOUS .d!f.ferent. deeper
paradigms. However the expansiOn characteristiCally m~ludes
a fuller statement of themes already alluded to as m the
spirit of deep ecology. The main expansion has in fact b.ee.n
much influenced by counter-cultural themes . In a Similar way shallow conservation positions are i~cluded in sha!lower paradigms in the dominant social paradig.m. The way in
which conservation positions are embedded m much rn~re
comprehensive paradigms is indicated in the followmg
diagram.

FIGURE 6(A).

A

sty~Lsed

Lll’JstratLon the slyl.’! of paradLSMtLc expansLon fro”

Lnc luded pos Lt Lons.

“Shallower paradLgl’tS

Deeper paradLg”s

Sha llowe r pos LHons

Deepe r pos Lt Lons

Ho cons’!rvat Lon:

sha llow:

u~re!ltrLcted

!1O””

!lLde

Inter”edLale

Deep

con:!!! rva l i..on

conse rva t i..on

cons tra Lnls
Exa”p les of such parad Lg”s:

Exa”ples of such paradi.g”s:

Do”Lnanl Uestern, State

Counler-culture, AlternatLve

SocLalLsl, Old Left. 52

Env Lron”enta l, Ex tended Deep
Eco l09′::!’ 52

FIGURE 6(8).

TypLcal co”ponents of the enco”‘passLng paradLg”s

OOM IHAtn SOC IAL PARAD lGM

DEEP EtN1RONI1ENTAL AL1ERNAT lVE

Do” Lnance ove r na tu re

Har,.,on’::! wLth nature

Ha tura l env Lrpn,.,ent a resource

Va lues Ln na lure/b Lospec Les

MaterL … l goals/econo”Lc growth

Hon-“a te r La l goa ls/eco log Lca I.

A”ple reserves/perfect substLtutes

Earth supplLes lL”Lled

HLgh technologLcal progress/

Appropr La te techno logy/l L,., Lts to

L”parHal i. l,::!

sus ta Lnab Llt t’::!

sc lent Lnc so lut Lons
Consurler LSrl

scLence
Do Lng wlth enough/rec’::!d Lng

Hal Lona l/c!!nt rat Ls!!d/large-!lca le

Regi.ona l/d”c!!nlral Lsed/s,,!! ll-!lcale

AulhorltarLan slructures/coercLve

Parti.cLpatory doz”ocraHc struclures/

“elhod!l

nonv Lo ll!n t I’ll! thods
SHALLOU …

, ————+1

DEEP

These elements of the contrast between shallower and
deeper paradigms figure importantly in applications, such as
to human population (and were selected with that applica’:

tion in view). Take the commitment to material (economic)
growth. Human population growth contributes to this, since
in a well-directed economy, other things being equal, a
larger human population can generate a’larger GNP than a
smaller one. On deeper paradigms there is no commitment to
maximum economic growth, or to accompanying population
maximisation, or indeed to maximisation at all. All that is
sought is enough carefully chosen economic growth to provide a material base for good nonconsumerist lives, a large
enough human population to provide sufficient variety in significant respects, but not excess, and, generally sufficiency
without surfeit.

The displacement of maximisation in deep paradigms by
sufficiency, derives in part from a clearer appreciation of
limits, environmental llmits to growth especially, but limits
as well to technology, power and knowledge (which would
seem otherwise to extend environmental limits). The nollmits theme of shallower paradigms, the theme that humans
can overcome limits, and always find a way by science and
technology, has a common source with the sole value
assumption, a set of prejudices about humans and their abllHies, as opposed to other creatures, indeed often a celebration of things human. It is from this illusory Cartesian picture of the unbounded possibillties of humans, with nature
wax in their hands, that have developed several fantasies as’

to the escape from limits; the economic delusion that there
are no limits to material growth because substitutes for exhausted resources can always be guaranteed through technological means, the grander aquarian delusion that there are
no llmits to human population growth because space is a new
frontier, opened again by human ingenuity and technological
know-how. In the end, on prevalllng shallower paradigms,
population growth is not a problem. There is nothing that”
cannot be overcome by more planning, more economic
growth, more technology, more development. There are no
insurmountable limits upon the flourishing of more and more
humans. Such at least, in crude outline, is the famlliar but
false shallower picture, which in unrestrained form tends to
neglect entirely the environment and its other inhabitants;
the environment is one more resource to be exploited and
substituted for when exhausted, and the other inhabitants
are largely expendable, often as trivial when compared with
human utillty.

Although deeper paradigms coincide in opposition to this
shallower picture, the paradigmatic expansions of deeper
positions so far sketched do differ in some crucial respects;
including the displacemeJ)t of maximisation. Wl:llle the damage wrought through maximisation of material and economic
parameters is appreciated, and maximisation is there resisted
and (satisizing) alternatives such as those of sustainability
offered, similar restraint is not always shown elsewhere. In
personal and psychological areas especially, old-style maxi:nisation is often persisted with, as with such directives as to
maxi:nise self-realisation. Such maximising directives are
liable to be built into expansions of intermediate positions,
especially those of a consequentialist cast, which recommend
maxi:nisation of experience or of interest, or of some other
measure of biospheric utility. By no means atypical is the
central ethical principle of Birch and Cobb’s theory, endorsed by Fox, ‘that we have an obligation to act so as to
maximise richness of experience in general – which includes
the richness of experience in the non-human world’ (p. 198).

This incorporates the biocentric fallacy, and is rightly dismissed by deep ecologists, though for the wrong reason,
since it is not ant~ropocentric (as Fox points out). Rather,
it conflates value with richness of experience; and experience has to be removed from the equation, since not all
experience is valuable and, conversely, value is distributed
more widely than experience. But nor would the directive to
maximise richness (simpliciter) be right, since this contracts
a bundle of value-endowing universals, including complexity,

dlversity, scarcIty, and so on, to a smgle element ,. And,
again, there is no obllgation to maximise value, or its representatives.

Questionable maximisation also mars the action (meta-)’principle, according to which those who subscribe to deep
ecology ‘have an obligation to try to contribute directly or
indirectly to the implementation of necessary changes’

(Naess 1983, p. 8, principle (6». For such a presumed obligation to implement amounts to supererogation. What should
have been set down is a commitment corollary. A person
committed to the principles will endeavour – to some extent,
depending on the level of commitment, weakness of will, and
so on – to implement practices and policies of deep ecology.

By contrast, the action principle does not follow from other
principles, and is open to apparent counter-examples, such
as that of impoverished people locked into an exploitative
social system.

8. Conspicuous incompleteness in the platform of deep ecology. Despite recent elaboration of a deep ecological paradigm, there are some surprising gaps in deep ecology, a
range of areas and issues, some of them rather critical,
some already noted, where deep ecology is sHent. One of
the less sensitive areas is the neglect of the built or fabr icated environment, and of what are included in cities, small
parks and household gardens. Because the fabrication and
management is mainly by humans – the greatest fabricators
and managers we know of in the universe, no doubt – it is
tempting to think that issues concerning fabricated items
are shallow. But that does not in any way follow, and probably reflects a mistaken process/product inferential sllde. A
rather more sensitive theoretical area, where deep ecological theory remains incomplete and vulnerable, concerns
the matter of natural values, and especially the epistemology of value .

However, it is only fair to observe that deep ecology,
though it has some sketchy antecedents,is· a very new
theory and style of theory. It would be expecting more than
most theories deliver to find positions on every relevant
issue. Still, granting all that, there remain some striking
omissions. These concern either sensitive and difficult areas,
or else controversial polltical areas, where reveallng the
radical corollaries of deep ecology could be polltically damaging.

With some justification, Fox complains that deep ecology
does not offer a theory of value guiding a ‘realistic praxis’.

Deep ecological theorising has shied away from considering situations of genuine value conflict and …

has not come forth with ethical guidelines for those
situations of where some form of kiling, exploitation
or suppression is necessitated.

(p. 199)
Such difficult issues as predation, alteration of natural systems, and the suppression of ‘pests’ and ‘weeds’ have been
avoided. (How do we suppress what we are supposed to identify with, part of ourselves, for example? Well, we can try
to suppress the ‘pestilent’ parts of ourselves; but then the
old problems simply re-emerge in internalised form.) Nor has
an impossible no-interference (‘hands off’ or ‘letting be’)
principle been wrought into a workable limited-interference
principle. The guidelines as regards day-to-day living and
action for a follower of deep ecology remain unduly and
unfortunately obscure.

Earlier formulations of noninterference principles took
an expectedly strong form, almost matching biologicalegalitarianism, for instance ‘Man has no right to decrease the
diversity of life forms and conditions of welfare among
other forms than the human’ (Naess’s restatement of a 60s
theme in 1983, p. 1). But such difficult principles were soon
modi fied, paralleling ‘egalitarianism in practice’, to permit
interference ‘to satisfy vital needs’ (whichever they are).

Thus Naess and Sessions comment on their quite shallow
theme that ‘present human interference with the non-human
world is excessive’, as follows:

13

The slogan of ‘noninterference’ does not imply that
humans should not modify some ecosystems as do
other species . … At issue is the nature and extent of
such interference.

(Ecophllosophy VI, p. 6)
Their modified approach is to try to exclude entirely only
certain types of interference – those accounted negative
interference – except in special drcumstances.

Hence
Naess’s tenet: ‘Humans have no right to interfere in a negative way except for purposes of vital needs’ (1983, p. 8,
principle
This is undoubtedly an improvement. It appears
to allow for positive interference in such forms as restoration of damaged land forms and ecosystems (though this conflicts with the approved law, ‘Nature knows best’). And it
opens the way for a classifkation of types of interference,
among which the bad forms can be excluded, as ‘negative’.

But that further essential and difficult work, of classification and justification, has not so far been undertaken; so the
force of the prindple remains obscure. At present it seems
to exclude even small-s.cale gardening – whkh presupposes.

previous and perhaps (as 1n slash-and-burn practices) ongoing rather negative interference – at least where it is
undertaken to provide, as well as bare subs1stence, for some·
comforts of life.

The lack of workable limited interference principles is
especially conspicuous when it comes to applkations of deep
ecology to practical environment problems; for much in
detalled applka tions turns on these prindples. For instance,
to what extent can agrkultultural practkes interfere with
the land? VIrtually any agricultural practice involves some
interference, but most contemporary practices involve far
too much damaging 1nterference. Deeper thought has not
found its way around thIs terraIn yet, has not located natural boundaries to interfering practices. It has tended to rely
on vague appeals to ‘righteous management’ pract1ces ,
whkh however, insofar as righteous management amounts to
proper management, can be granted by the shallowest envIronmentalism. Meanwhile, deeper restrkt10ns to methods
that lie llght on the land and env1ronment, and to respectful
use, can be put to some llght work in applicatIons. The
c1pplications are extens1ve, in prInciple to v1rtually any and
every env1ronmental problem and 1ssue . On many of
these deep ecology offers, or can offer, fresh and often
challenging approaches. Many of the more famlllar env1ronmental applicat10ns can be contracted to a slngle bundle ot’

thIngs, through the equatIon connectIng Impact with the following product: population X consumption X technology.

Excessive environmental impact is, thus, typkally a matter
of too many humans wIth too high a consumptIon produced
usIng too dIrty a technology. (In turn too high a per capIta
consumption is due in large measure to too many maximisers
in modern Industr1al communItIes.) Part of the deeper solution to impact 1s immediate: many fewer humans with lower
consumption and cleaner less-impactIng technology. The
applications all result, then, by applying lImited-Interference
pr inciples, limiting 1mpact. Other applIcations to planning
are also derIvative (though not by deductive means only,
because much further information has to be brought in.) But
roughly, the way can be argued to deep approaches towards
matters such as decentralIsatIon, local involvement, smallscale operations, etc., from features of the broader phIlosoohical basIs. .

. “The polItical corollaries of deep ecology are, by contem;:>orary timid standards, extremely radical; but it remains
I1nclear how envisaged political reorganisation 1s to be
3chIeved (other than by, what is unlikely, a suffident
change in ecological consciousness combined with democratic
change in present power structures). They Involve, for instance, drastk reorientatIon away from economk growth
objectIves and indivIdual consumerIsm, for starters. They
i.nclude the contraction or abolltIon of prIvate property, and
the dIssolution of natIon-states in favour of bIoregional organIsation (cf. Fox, p. 195). At bottom, then, the pol1tical
direct10ns resemble those of sodal anarchism , though
some draconian state and international measures have been

(3».

14

proposed at least for the interim (such as Devall’s world wilderness pollce). The underlying route is then a famlllar utopian one: a way through strengthened and improved archk
arrangements to bioregional anarchk organisat1ons (cf. EP2);
a way famil1ar from bott) Christianity and tlarxism, but with
a much more specIfIcally sketched end-state. For many components of the deep ecologkal paradigm, decentrallsation,
local control, and so forth, relate to the envisaged endstate, rather than the present or immediate future. The
end-state, which is a stable cl1max system, is seen as some
sort of world federation (of federations) of b1oreg1ons, whkh
are in turn federations of communities. While considerable
scope for different soc1al arrangements 1s allowed for, a
generous pluralism antic1pated, the framework of such a
plurallsm has not been worked out or much worked at. Presumably communit1es specialising in piracy are not tolerated,
nor those practising slavery welcomed to a federation. But
what are the bounds of politkal toleration? How are they
guaranteed? And so on.

The deep ecolog1cal paradigm lacks a relevant polltkal
component which would answer such questions. Whlle there
1s an 1nteresting and growing ecotopian literature to peruse,
there is not a deeper politkal theory to consult, or criticise. If what a deep framework is llke remains obscure, how
such a framework diverges from recently outllned minarchic
plurallst1c frameworks is rather clearer. An acceptable
framework wlll be very different from the libertarian and
liberal frameworks (suggested by Nozick and others, or differently Walzer and others), since these typically shallow
positions presuppose, 1n varying forms, essentially la1ssezfaire cap1tallstk arrangements, and protect1on of private
property, privllege, and so forth. The politkal direction of
deep pos1tions is very different. Given the underlying egalItarianIsm and faIrness assumptions, the rival assumptions of
unllm1ted accumulation of power and capital and wealth and
the protected pr1vate property of Nozkk’s framework, for
1nstance, would certa1nly not be granted: Nor would the
usual llberal rIght to a ‘free go’ – to hunt, shoot, erode,
reproduce, and so on – be generally conceded. Even from a
llberal perspect1ve that ‘right’ depends on falllng to see
interference in many cases when It is blatant. Thus, a ‘free
go’ pr1ndple, as d1st1nct from a qualifIed ‘faIr go’ prlndple,
would not be a satIsfactory framework princIple. Even
though deep ecology does not fully echo anarchIst stress on
freedom, there are slgnifkant problems here: how to reconclle envIronmental and sodal constraInts on creatures’ lIfestyles with the conditione; fnr liberty.

“Haven’t published a thing all year,
Meepstead. Damned·researcher’s got
a writing block.”

An Important and sensItive polltkal 1ssue that has not
rece1ved much deeper coverage is the matter of prIvate property, even though it 1s clear that both the not1ons of property and of privatisation are up for transformation under

deeper perceptions. For certain types of currently recognised property there are however some leads. Naess remarks
at one point that the land is not owned: so presumably also
it is not to be bought and sold, or ought not to be. Whlle
that lops off one leg of capita!lsm, it does not entall commitment to socialism. The land does not belong to society,
or the local community, either: it is not theirs to do more or
less what they will with but it is its own thing; it does not
belong (to any group). What holds for land must, on deep
perception, hold also for creatures on the land. Wlld animals
are their own creatures, of independent value. They should
not be imprisoned, as in zoos or laboratories, for the benefit
of humans. Like humans, they should not be marketable commodities – for several reasons: for instance, as mere cornmodities they are not accorded, or treated with, due respect
.

But what applies to wild creatures no doubt extends to
domestic creatures as well. So there wl11 be a severe impact
on agricultural practices. Presumably some mutual arrangements can be reached with local hens, and perhaps even a
farmyard dairy cow and draught horse or so. But there wlll
be no factory farms of battery hens enslaved just to produce
eggs for our fr..iends in the cities. N0r factory farm cows
primarily converting fodder to mllk. What of the intermediate case of enclosures? – also an early industrial development. GrazIng animals are confined by fences in places
where they would often not remain given any choice. Meanwhlle should deep ecologists be liberating these animals?

There are many ways to go here, as on other issues in agriculture; ..but biological egalitarianism again unduly reduces
the options. Given that cutting fences is not violence (despite its structural features; nor strictly are rights infringed
since land is not really owned), egalitarians should presumably, by the action principle, be cutting fences (much as intermediate utl1ltarians should be doing much more for animals than they usually attempt).

One resolution of some of these problems is by way of
local pluralism. Under this, deep ecologists, whlle they would
arrange appropriately for their own communities, would not
be trying to impose their position on others. A pluralistic
framework can allow for a whole range of social positions.

The boundaries remain unclear however: for instance, to
what extent are shallow claims to private land and forest
recognised? And many features of one community are matters of concern for other communities: nuclear weapons production, atmospheric pollution, total population, and so on.

How pluralistic can deep ecology be, given its commitments? Quite pluralistic, and almost necessarlly so 1£ it is to
be plausible. A deep ecologist may choose a lifestyle of voluntary simplicity; she does not try to enforce it on her shallow friends, though persuasion is permissible enough. Presumably the same holds for such matters as salaries, which,
as Naess says, are well over average for the biosphere in
wealthier countries. The deep ecologist appropriately redistributes her excess, takes a salary cut, or looks for parttime work; but she does not try to compel her colleagues to
do the same. In all these respects the deep ecologist is like
a person who adheres to a certain religion or ideology; and
the combination of many such relIgIons nowadays, for example in unIfIed churches provIde a useful model for pluralism at work .

Such a relIgIous model helps also in meetIng sweepIng
charges, derIved from orthodoxy but usually wIth !lttle foundation, such as that deep ecology is elItIst, is parasitic on
privIlege, depends on a capitalist base structure, etc. Consider such charges redirected against Buddhism for instance.

In each case the charges have some force nowadays, but primarily because mixed capitalism has appropriated, and largely controls, main means of production.

The elitist objection to the deep position in fact assumes human chauvinism. That rivers, forests, etc., are valuable for people is the starting assumption. It is claimed that
‘mostpeople are indIfferent’ to mountains and forests which simply assumes value of such natural items is det~r­
mined in some type of utllltarian (democratic) way by sum-

mation over human personal preferences. But this is an entirely inadequate way of assessing, or beginning to take due
account of natural value (see EP).

As well as charges of extreme radicalism and extremism,
deep ecology has to counter the converse charge of conservativeness. Deep ecology falls to recognise or allow for evolutionary change, natural catastrophes, and the like. It
wants to hold things where tr1ey are in some idealised time
projected into the past. The charge is mIstaken. However
there is certainly an emphasis on equlllbrium and stability as
opposed to change, this emphasis tying in with a general
preference for primary ecosystems which are richer, more
stable, etc. What goes along with some of this, which is
more open to challenge, is the assumption that what is natural is, by and large, good. Or worse, the tendency to person1£y Nature, as in Commoner’s dubIous’ law’, Nature knows
best. Nature, sInce not a creature with Intentions, cannot
(slgn1£icantly) know anything. Of course the ‘law’ can be
spelt out, to something more neutral, like: followIng natural
ways tends to give better results than alternatives <60).

The theme of the goodness and benignness of nature perhaps
comes through most powerfully in often cited passages from
one of the sacred texts: Leopold. But, once again, not all
natural thIngs are necessarlly good. Some humans behave as
1£ they are, constitutIonally, set on evll programmes. For
them to live and blossom, in the sense of carrying through
theIr programmes, much, perhaps unnecessary, evll will eventuate. There is no right for such people to flourish (in this
way). This too tells against the alleged ‘right for all beings
… to survive and blossom’, which is linked to underlying invariant natural goodness assumptions .

9. Changing the underlying, pr~vocative, images engendered
by ‘deep ecology’, and removing the rubbish. Deep ecology
has nothing especially deep about it, and no better links
with ecology than with many other studies. Certainly some
of the notIons in this part of the woods; could do with
labels, and deep ecology has the advantage of priority for
some (one) of them. But that is almost where its advantages
end. For both the analogies involved, with ecology and
depth, are rather shallow.

‘Deep ecology’ suggests to the unwary that deep ecology
is a part of ecology, much as core physics is of physics or
basic chemistry of chemistry. But it is not: this would make
deep ecology a branch of biology, which it is not.

Deep ecology is a normative and policy- and l1£estyleoriented theory, whereas ecology is rather a science, a
science dea!lng with the relations between organisms and
(their) various environments. As such, ecology involves much
laboratory work and field work: ecology has industrial and
ml1ltary applications; for instance as to the levels of pol1u15

tion and radiation various tree or fish ‘crops’ wll1 tolerate.

But ~eep ecology has llttle in the way of such appllcations,
else 1t would be better funded and looked upori more favourably by universities. Much ecologkal research, despite its
earller subversive promise, now sits firmly within the dominant paradigm: it is environmentally shallow and reductionistk, a~d, thou~h aseptkally concerned with the environment,
contrI’ilJtes 11ttle to change of environmental consciousness.

Granted, deep ecology premises many value judgments on
,ec_ologkal universals, but so (indirectly) may shallower posi11:115: granted, deep ecology i!?, llke ecology, bound up wlth
the environment, but so is modern geography: granted, deep
ecology concerns the place of organisms in their environmer; cs, but so, in ways more congenial than those of industrial ecology, do religions llke Tao. For all the limited substance in the comparison with ecology, deep ecology might
as well be, what it is sometimes presented as, deep environmentallsm.

It is, however, with the much less satisfying depth analogy that the m~in problems lie. In the first place, there is
~othing of substance to sustain the analogy; there is, for
mstance, no distinctively deep structure contrasting with
shallow forms. Compare Iinguistks, where there really are
surface and depth forms, where the data supplles surface
forms, and then deeper forms result by complex analysis.

There is nothing comparable in the deep ecologkal case.

There need be no complex analysis, and usually is not. Moreover, the shallow right-winger can penetrate below the surface to underlying assumptions just as much, or as little as
the left-leaning greenie.

The notion of deep structure and depth of subjects like
linguistics is now similarly applled to physks, for example as
follows:

the hundred regularities of chemistry •.• completely
shield from view the deep structure underpinning
them ••. (It turned out) in no way required or right to
try to explain such complkation of chemical bonds
with a corresponding compllcation of principle. All
have their origin in something so fantastically simple
as a system of positively and negatively charged
masses .•. The direction of understanding runs, not
from the upper levels of structure to the deep ones,
but from the deeper ones to the upper ones.

(Wheeler, p. 16)
But again there is nothing of the sort underpinning the
depth notion of deep ecology. Related points undercut the
idea that depth terminology is being applied, somewhat less
exactly and strktly, as in subjects like mathematics, where
there is (fairly vague) talk of deep results, deep proofs, etc.

:)ften what is meant is that one or more of the following
things obtain: an unllkely trkk worked, a new and compllcated method was introduced, the argument circuited
through’ a remote part of the subject, etc. None of these
sorts of considerations properly extends to deep ecology.

However, Naess and Devall and others – who have evidently been embarrassed by the question as to what is deep
in or about deep ecology – do want to talk variously about
depth of arguing, reasoning, understanding, of argument,
premises, or looking back to fundamentals, examining assumptions, and, especially, questioning. None of these is particularly well defined: in no case are there any applkable
measures. Naess, however, has measures of chains of reasoning in mind: he speaks of depth in terms of long chains of
reasoning going back to fundamentals. This fails to do the
requisi te job.

Firstly, someone who subscribes to the core values or
phllq.sophka,1 basics of deep ecology may not go through any
:,uch rea,sonl,n~. A person may be a deep ecologist by feelmgs or mtuitiOn. Such depth is accordingly not necessary.

Nor, secondly, is it sufficient. A shallow utilitarian may, as
we have seen, match Naess step by step, in his working back
through ecosophy to the fundamental value principle. That
sh?w~ the flaw in t~e i~ea of especial depth in ecosophk
thmkmg, for the der1vatiOn doesn’t make such a utllitarian
16

deep. In a remarkable sell’:’out Naess says it does. A person
who derives the worst industriallsm from Christian premises
by a long chain of reasoning would be a deep ecologist
according to Naess On 1984}. Naess appears to have lost
track of the fundamentals of his own theory. The sell-out
also explains an apparent inverse of the curious theme of
depth in shallow ecology; that shallow ecology ultimately
requires the support of deep ecology (Naess 1983, o. 5). But
there is no such inversion; it is simply again that shallow
themes can also be given long chains of support. So much
fo~ the appealing idea: shallow ecology justifies the deep
Sh1ft! Rather, deep ecology is sometimes useful for shallow
purposes (p. 6). And there may be shallow arguments for
some of deep ecology. And much deep ecology may be given
shall~wer disguises. But the divide between shallow and deep
remams and cannot be removed in this sort of way.

The divide – whkh would conventionally reduce to a
smooth grade, if any of the proposed measures of depth
could be go~ to work – embarrasses several deep ecologists.

Some are d1sturbed for metaphyskal reasons: they are unhappy with any sort of bifurcation or distinctions, and
appear rather in the tradition of James and Harvard ‘radical
empirkism’ than the traditions they Ilke to invoke. So results a certain tension between monistk and pluralistk ways.

Devall, for example, inveighs against dualisms in general in
t~e ~ery .course of setting up the shallow/deep ecology distmctiOn (m 1979). Others are worried about polltical division
(already exploited, especially by the opposition) within the
still-too-small environmental movement. It is perhaps with
this in view that it is suggested by T. Birch, as well as by
Naess and by Drengson (pp. 6-8), that there is really no rift
between shallow and deep ecology. But there is a value
chasm to begin with, though in many environmental issues
this doesn’t matter; shallow and deep people can cooperate
against the forces of environmental evll.

But genuine compatibility – as distinct from tolerant
pluralistk coexistence with chasmic diffecences – would require idealised ‘shallow’ people. According to Naess, ‘It may
:ound paradoxkal, but with a more lofty image of maturity
m humans, the appeal to serve deep, specifkally human interests .is in full harmony with the norms of deep ecology’

(Ecophliosophy VI, p. 9). It ~ paradoxkal, and full harmony
is an illusion if ‘specifkally’ means restrktedly. For, shallo.wly, natural items without suffkient human sponsorship
wdl tend to be done down (a sorry way for such things to
have been done, by patronage, but the present dominant
way: see the discussion of the blue whale case in EP). Birch
rightly sees some discord. However, in arguing that ‘there
sho~ld be no rift between deep and shallow ecologists’, he
cla1ms, ‘nor does deep ecology condemn the respectful use
of the land for practkal needs’. But this claim hides an
ambiguity. While admitting some land uses, deep ecology may
condemn its use for practkal needs whkh a shallow ecologist applauds, such as the conversion of an old forest to a
plantation monoculture. Nor is deep ecology a matter of giving shallow ecologists ‘deeper reason’ for their eco-simplifying practices, which is what Birch alarmingly goes on to
suggest.

The aspects of depth whkh do, to some extent, accompany deep ecology, and especially the deep ecological paradigm it informs, are indicative of a shift in thinking, of a
new paradigm, rather than anything distinctive of deep eco-:logy. For instance, to take deep questioning as characteristic of deep ecology is to confuse a general indkator of
new paradigms with just one such paradigm. Rather, deep
questioning tends to be indkative of dissatisfaction with any
entrenched paradigm and to mark the challenge to it and
s~if~ away from it. It is a fallacy to construe the deep questiOnmg of deep ecology as more than a special case of this
phenomenon.

Depth measures, of argument, understanding, or questioning, represent a mistaken approach to an explication of
depth. It would be better perhaps, to talk of depth or
searchingness of perception of value: a deep ecologist with
deeper DNcPJ)ti()n sees v]’uc where traditional shallow

people missed it. But this analogy has its problems too. Maybe depth here just is a rather suggestive and infectious
metaphor, and best left as such, as in John Seed’s ‘The well
of ecology is deep’. Yet deep and shallow do mark out significant differences, but differences which could easily be
differently labelled. For example, to appeal to another
metaphor with some vogue, they could be seen as greenecology and grey-ecology, or better green theory (or green
thought) and grey theory, or differently, and better still,
deep-green theory and pale-green theory. The colours do
~ave some appropriateness, in Europe, in summer; green
forests and green fields, as against grey business suits, grey
cities and grey warships . Even so, these colours have
only rather shallow connections with the richer theory concerned, which is at bottom a philosophical (value) theory
..lV’ith social and political implications. Nor does the green/c~rey contrast fare so well for environments llke Australia;
‘)ut perhaps its most damaging aspect is its association with
t’le immature/aged contrast. The shades-of-green terminology, which helps emphasise the range and continuity of
environmental positions, avoids the worse of these positions.

Ordinarily, with such defective introductions as ‘para-.

digm’ and ‘deep ecology’ the inclination is to let them go, to
say something like: Well, the expression is established, its
scope and limitations more or less known. But in the case of
‘deep ecology’ little of that sort of justification is true.

Main exponents of the motion are not so evidently aware of
the limitations of the expression concerned, and have gone
to prodigious lengths to explain and justify use of the selfcongratulatory term ‘deep’. Nor is the scope of the term or
the extent of the notion intended at all well established.

Among the reasons for disquiet with deep ecology outlined
were the vagueness and amorphousness of the notion as it
figures in the source literature. Among the results are that
it means different things to different exponents and confuses its critics; and presents only a false dichotomy with
its intended opposition, shallow ecology. This is enhanced by
the narrowness of some of the themes, especially egalitarian
themes, with the further result that the theory loses its
pluralistic appeal.

But the main reason why the terminology has to go, why
appealing new terminology is needed if the notion is to be
retained in service and not retired, is that the term ‘shallow’ incorporates an ad hominem claim against the intended
environmental opposition, to the effect – what may be entirely inaccurate – that they are shallow, superficial in their
positions, reasoning, understanding, etc. No wonder that
Passmore, often taken as representative of the opposition,
felt obliged to remark parenthetically, ‘I need hardly add
that this terminology was invented by the self-styled “deep”
ecophilosophers’ (in 1983). New terminology, like the green/grey contrast, would avoid the ad hominem and associated
bad features.

As well as new terminology for a rectified notion, a
wider clean-up programme is needed. Passmore was not
wrong (in his own provocative final chapter of 1974) about
removing the rubbish, though he somehow failed to observe
the large amount on his side of the fence, and shortsightedly mistook much at a philosophical distance that was
not rubbish for rubbish. But, certainly, the deep ecology
movement carries an excessive amount of rubbish with it (in
contraversion, so to say, of its own platform). That does not
imply that there is not a clean sound position to be discerned when the often inessential rubbish is removed, the
fallacy rubbish-removing empiricists tend to tumble into
quite unaided.

One striking example of rubbish, which in the fashion of
much deep ecology conflates ontology with epistemology, has
already been exhibited (it comes from Fox, who repeated it
from Walsh, see p. 29). Some further examples of very dubious anthropic material that should be removed, drawn from
the rich deep ecological sources, follow: According to Naess,
who ‘proclaims that essentially there is at present a sorry
underestimation of the potentialities of the human species’

, ‘our species is not designed to be the scourge of the
earth’ (Ecophilosophy VI, p. 9). Given the environmentallst
record, there are substantial grounds for claiming it already
has been; given the probabl1lty of a human-induced nuclear
winter, the claim is at best very dubious. It is hard to avoid
the impression that Sessions and Naess are not taking the
human environmental record of massive destruction and extermination seriously when they say, in elaboration of a
Values-in-Nature theme of all things, ‘Ecological processes
on the planet should, on the whole, remain intact. – “The
world environment should remain ‘natural'” (Gary Snyder)
(Ecophilosophy VI, p. 5). For very many places it is already
too late.

The theme of cosmic identity, often included in the deep
ecology package, generates much further rubbish. According
to this theme, which identifies person with planet or even
cosmos, you and I are identical with other natural objects,
up to and including the universe. The theme, like any number of outrageous principles, has worthwhlle applications.

Since I am the forest, the destruction of the forest is the
destruction of me; so, as a matter of self-interest, I resist
the destruction. Unfortunately, the theme also has bizarre
consequences. Since I am the forest, I cover several acres
and comprise many mossy trees, but cannot significantly
have, as I do have, a face or feet. Since you and I are one
with the planet, and you thin and I fat, you are both fat and
thin, old and young. And so on. There are ways out of this
mess , but the way of extreme holism, which would obllterate you and me as separate persons, simply makes things
much worse.

It is the worse way deep ecology has taken (cf. Fox
above). For supreme examples of resulting rubbish we need
look no further than the oft-cited pronouncements of one of
the gurus of deep ecology, Fritjof Capra. According to
Capra, who extends the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory virtually to absurdity,
Quantum theory thus reveals the basic .oneness in the
universe. ••.

The human observer constitutes the
final link in the chain of observational processes, and
the properties of any atomic object can only be
understood in terms of the object’s interaction with
the observer. This means that the classica I ideal of
objective description of nature is no longer valid.

The Cartesian partition between I and the world,
between the observer and the observed, cannot be
made when dealing with atomic matter. In atomic
physics we can never speak about nature without, at
the same time, speaking about ourselves.

But the Copenhagen interpretation – which does assume the
relativisation of quantum experimentation and measurement
to a classical framework, which may however include no
human observers – in no way sustains this wild hollstic,
anthropocentric extrapolation. (The italicised ‘thus’ and’

what follows are without warrant from standard quantum
theory texts.) Further, the Copenhagen interpretation is only
one interpretation of quantum theory; so it is not compulsory. Rather it is an idealistic verlficationist interpretation,
thoroughly out of keeping with what should be the antireductionist thrust of green-theory. With more satisfactory
interpretations, we can perfectly well do in atomic physics
those things Capra tries to insist we cannot: we can speak
of nature, its features and value, independently of humans.

We do not have to remain silent about rubbish.

It is a serious question, then, how much effort should be
expended on deep ecology, looking for improved formulations
and new terminology, for a type of theory that should be
either substantially transformed or else largely abandoned
(not demolished, not bulldozed, but simply dehabited.) For
most of the acclaimed major themes of ‘insights’ of deep
ecology in original form should be set to rest: biocentrism
(of values), biospheric egalitarianism, extreme holism, cosmic
identity, maximal self-realisation, … , all go down. Yet, as
much still remains, there are two different ways to proceed:

[7

restoration or abandonment. Restoration strips off the worst
excesses from the basically sound structure, and, where requisite, makes suitable replacements (one outcome is deepgreen theory, sketched in the Appendix Para. 3). The other
way, abandonment or total removal, is typically premised on
the wasteful assumption that what is partly rubbish is (probably) largely or entirely rubbish, and it is easy to see how
shallower positions, not notlcing the sounder parts of deep
ecology, would view it that way, and condemn, the whole
edlfice. But because there is much that is solid and worthwhlle in deep ecology, what should be preferred is the firs’t
way, of restoration and reconclliation.

Rlchard Sylvan <66)
APPENDIX

1. Survey methods as a way of pinning down deep ecology.

How does the sort of picture shown in Figure 1 – which is
worth persevering with, elaborating and applying – fit in
with the burgeoning deep ecologlcal literature? It is surely
not just tangential to that, so that we should look elsewhere
to grasp the deeper features of deep ecology? The core
themes, and philosophlcal basis, and extension themes, were
assembled in a quite impressionistic fashion, namely W’orking
through much of the literature and all the more basic work,
and setting down the themes which on reflection seemed to
be presented or emerge. Something like this is still a main
l1ethod of research in the humanities, e.g. in history, history
of ideas, and phllosophy.

r———-l—–i
_

1
__________

INTERSECT IOH
(COMIION
LCO~)

_____

_

I

I
But here, with deep ecology, there were prospects of
doing better than such impressionistic methods, or so I
thought. Empirlcal, or at least quasi-empirlcal, methods
could be employed. The main idea is that the set of relevant
sources is assembled, and the same statistical and settheoretlc work is done on the themes extracted from these
sources; so the method is an elaboration of the sort of technique larger dlctionaries such as the Oxford adopt in pinning
down the standard senses of a term. The hope was that analysis of the serious philosophical llterature (pretty rough
selection criteria these, to be sure) on deep ecology would
lead, not to despair, but in particular in two directions:

Firstly, to what is more or less common to the positions presented – the intersection of theories, giving the core or
basic theory. And secondly, to what results when all the
theories are put together – the union of themes, giving an
approximation, after some sifting, to a deep ecologlcal paradigm.

As you might have anticipated by now, this thematlc
method hardly worked to perfection. Still it is worth explaining the method in a little more detail since, despite its
limited success, it reveals much. First a set of sources is
assembled. Here there is scope for sampling and statistlcal
methods, so beloved of sodal scientists; but in the case of
deep ecology it seemed feasible to gather for winnowing all
more serious texts accessible in Australla. That latter limitation (all to farnillar in environmental research) imposes a
perhaps unfortunate parochial geographical constraint; but it
induces no violation of such adequacy requirements as that

sources introducmg the notion be included in the bundle, as
are all sources referred to in several other sources.

With
the rise of networking magazines concerned with deep ecology, there are many references to deep ecological thinking
and experience which get discounted, as not appropriately
serious. Increasingly often, any sort of deeper experience or
thought gets assigned under the ‘deep’ heading, no matter
how anthropocentric. This is one of the many problems with
the depth notion and deep terminology, rather counteracting
the valuable idea of penetrating below the conventional surface of received environmental assumptions, that it is important to think deeper than the assumption of Environment
Z-land, for instance, that the environment should be managed for present and future generations of humans – a typical governmental surface assumption, often announced, but
much less often put into practice.

Once the sources are assembled, a beginning can be
made on unscrambling themes, something that calls for a
good deal of judgement also, especially in such matters as
deciding whether themes from different sources come to the
same or not. Here and elsewhere care is required not to
penetrate too deeply, to expose only so much of the surface
themes as is necessary (a well-known principle in logical
analysis). When the themes are duly marked out, there is
some smoothing of the thematic data, for instance evidently
remote and irrelevant themes in one source may be deleted.

(It is like the judging of a diving contest or the massaging
of statistic: isolated wlld elements are removed from the
sample used for assessment.) Then the elementary set operations of union and intersection are applied, again subject to
some qualification. In partlcular, if ,a very pr.ominent theme
in some formulations is omitted from, or only approximated
in, one formulation, then that theme will be put, initially at
least, in the intersection. (Logicians and mathematicians, for
example, sometimes omit intended or assumed axiolTls; e.g.

Parry in analytic implication, Maclean in category theory.)
A striking example concerns the very introductiof’ r’f the
notion ‘of deep ecology into the philos;phical llqerature
(Naess 1973), which fails to present the fundamental value
thesis, that intrinsic value is not confined solely to humans
or human features. While it can be argued that rejection of
the sole and greater value assumptions is implied by what is
s~id concerning biospherlc egalitarianism (the equal right to
live and blossom), the argument is not decisive, since value
is only involved indirectly and perhaps only instrumentally,
(as Naess’s appeal to effects on the ‘life quality of humans’

and to ou~ ecolor.;jcal dependence might suggest).

Naturally one does not at Leillpt . tillS sort of analysis
entirely in the dark, but in the partial expectation that certain kinds of results will emerge; three especially:

1. The core represents a signlflcant deviation from
mainstream assumptions, a deviation which has been encountered before.

2. The total theory, or union, is not simply a jumble of
theses, but has some coherence.

3. There are ways of getting from the core toward the
total theory.

In the case of deep ecology it would have been pleasant
to report triumphantly that these expectations, and more,
ar,e fulfilled; indeed that the theory is so well integrated it
represents a (sub}cultural paradigm. What cont:eit! Still there
is a good deal there. Partly the thematic enterprise did not
succeed because of the poor calibre of the leading presentations of ‘the’ deep ecology intuition, and because exponents
had and have di fferent intuitions, messages and objectives.

2. Towards deeper environmental pluralism. Partly, however,
it didn’t work because it was misconceived. Taking the
union, in particular, assumed that there was much wider
common ground – something that could be called the deeper
ecological paradigm which could be approached illthis sort
of way – rather than a plurality of positions. Pluralism is
fine and feasible, and should be encouraged just about
~verywhere, but taking the union of themes of sorne plural-

FIGURE 78. Adual results,

~n

M~n

nole forl’l, of a survey of so”e

BV

tlaess-Sess Lons
Haess 73

Haess B4

Haess 83
lnlr~ns~c

value (1)

sources.

ROUGH
CLASS IF ICAT 10HS

Devall 79

Inh ~ns ~c va lue of

YALUE

l~fe

CORE

(I)

B~otog~caL

egaUtar~anLsl’I (2)

D~vers~twr~chness (3)
COl’lptex~tH

O~vers~lwr~chness (2)

D~vers~lwr~chness (1)

D~vers~lH (10)

GROUNDS AHO
BASES

not

CO”P Hca Hon

(6)

Hew person/planel
“etaphHs~cs (1)

Objechve approach lo
nalure (2)
Ho negaHve
ence

r~9hls,

~nlerfer­

excepHng

Ho negahve

~nterfer­

ence, e lc. ( 3 )

Earth

w~sdol’l,

YALUE AND

L~rlded ~nterference

ACT ION

vllaL needs (3)

COROLLAR IES
More le ~slJre (13)

AcHon obLlgaHon (6)
Present

~nlerference

excess~ve (~)

Ad~on obl~9al~on (8)

Presen l hu”an
ence

POLICY RHO

~n te rf e-

excess~ve (5)

LIFEST’fLE

Po l ~cH adjus t”en ts to

PI) l ~cH adjlJs tl’len ts ,

Inter~” pol~cH: slead~

econo” ~e and

e le. [A Lso to techno-

state (IS ).(8)

log~cal

~deo-

slructures (5)

APPLlCAT IOHS

log~cal structures] (6) SOt t lechno l09H (11)

strudures] (6)
ObjecHve

l~(e

ralher lhan
Uv~n9

q’JautH

h~9her

slandard (7)

L~fe qlJaL~t~

ralher lhan
quanl~lH

of

products (6)
Uorld populahon
reduehon
Ant ~-pollul ~on/
resource deplehon (5)

(~)

RedlJc hon of popu LaUon to ophrlul’I (7)
El’lphas ~s on po llu Hon
and l ~I<.e top ~cs
counlerproduchve (B)

Local avlono"w

Loca L au tono"w

decenlra l ~s t ~on (7)

decentraHsat~on (ll),(l~)

Anh-class posture (~)
tlew pSHCho L09H (3)
w~th

DISCOUNTED:

NEU SUBJECTS

rejecHon of

dua USl’Is: l’Ian/na ture,
subject/object, etc.

Hew ph ~ lospoh ~ca L
anthropolo9H (9)
New objecUve
sclence (~)
Hew educaHon (12)
El’Ibedd ~n9 Ln ecosophH

? El’lbedd ~n9

EMBEDDING

~n

upda led Sp ~noza (2)

PH ILOSOPHY/
RELIGION

Hates:

1. Brac~eted nUMeraLs ~ndLcate theses nUMbers ~n the sources.

to SOMe
2. The d~s~ppo~nt~ng absence of core
cOMpensated for by appeal to
elsewhere Ln accoMpanyLng texts and cOMMentarLes.

extent be

19

istic system of positions is likely to lead only to intractable
inconsistent sets, and perhaps to trouble. Consider, to lllustrate, the United Rellgion, about to sweep California, a
plurallst grouping made of representations of the world’s
great religions. While the refined common core of these
positions is llkely to be interesting, the union is not: it will
contain, for example, all of the following inconsistent triad:

many gods exist (from e.g. Hinduism); exactly one god exists
(from e.g. Islam); no gods exist (from e.g. Buddhism).

There is analogous trouble in combining deep ecological
sources, with such results as that stones and mountains both.

do and do not have Inherent value. But lIkewise thls does
not show that the notion of a deeper ecological paradigm is
illusory. It only reveals some of the pluralistic features, not
duly recognised at the deeper end of the ecological movements. And it only indicates that a different route should be
taken in getting to a deeper paradigm. For the alternative
environmental, and deep ecological, paradigm covers a
spread of positions, much as the contrasting dominant social
paradigm does.

~. Prel~”LnarH plclure 0′ (p.r.dl9..aHc) p1.ur.l.ls”_

Pluralism is set wIthIn, and restricted by, a framework.

The framework is open to further determination in several
different, and perhaps conflicting, directIons, allowing for a
plurallty of positions. A formulation of pluralism is achieved
by not settllng too many issues; it is achieved not by closure
of issues, but by deliberately leaving much open – open not
just for later determination, but for different directions or
patterns of determination, or for cheerful nondetermlnation.

Some of the sources on deep ecology have tried to settle
too much, sometImes in very questionable ways (thus, e.g.,
Devall on dualisms). What would have been preferable to
dogmatic closure on issues that are neither core nor framework, would have been statements to the effect that the
issues are left open. Then needless disputes would have been
removed, since differences could be absorbed pluralistically.

Of course deep ecology has to amount to something, to
exclude certain widespread assumptions, namely central
assumptions of the dominant social paradigm. For this purpose, it is easier to formulate core themes of depth ecology
negatively than positively, to set the themes up in opposition to the dominant paradigm. So it is with the sole value
assumption, according to which value is not confined to features of humans and their circle (e.g. honorary humans, and
Gods fashioned in human likeness). Even a more positive recasting of them as wider values. or values-in-natlJre; that
values also reside, are to be found, in non-human nature,
sompwhere, does not indicate exactly where or what the
locus of value is. ThIs feature, a certain shallowness or imprecision in formulation, which may look at first glance like
a serious drawback, turns out to be a considerable advantage when it comes to pluralistic formulation. Naess’s later
formulation of a wider value theme, that life on earth is
intrinsically valuable, illustrates the point. As already explained, the restriction to llfe on earth is much too parochial (and incompatible with the ethical requirement of univer.salizabllity). Worse still is the restriction to llfe. Life is a
value-making characteristic, but it does not always succeed,
and it is by no means the only value-making characteristic
(e.g. richness, diversity, complexity, stabllity, are others). A
much more open formulation would have avoided thesc~ sorts
of difficulties, for instance as follows: Among the I :’riow;
nonhuman things that are intrinsically valuable are nHny
living creatures.

Naturally, pluralistic frameworks cannot be entirely .i:ldeterminate, and it is essential to’ offer some elaboration of

ways claims can be filled out. Elaboration of the values-innature theme of deeper positions lllustrates the matter. By
virtue of this theme some natural items have value, exhibit
value quallties, in a way furthermore that does not reduce
to aspects of those who sense or notice the qualities,
namely valuers of some sort. Some account is then eventually owed of how these items can have these (tertiary) value
qualities independently of their being somehow perceived. In
fact the attempts in this direction so far in the -deep ecology literature are not very satisfactory. What is required
however is not a satisfactory, or an authorised, account, but
a sufficient indication that some such account is possible. It
can be left open which accounts various different strands of
deeper environmental plurallsm adopt.

There are plurallsms and pluralisms, a plurallty of them,
some natural and significant, some not. Two types of pluralistic groupings are especially important so far for environmental action and practice: broad environmental plurallsm,
which comprises .all environmentally oriented positions, shallow and deeper: and deeper environmental plurallsm, which,
wIth a more restricted shared value framew·ork, includes ani’::

mal liberation but not resource conservation. For most environmental campaigns (where numbers, visibllity, alliances,
etc., matter) broad environmental pluralism is appropriate;
only occasionally (e.g. in the treatment of animals, or
plants) wl1l it be necessary to fall back to a deeper level.

Plurallsm lets other positions within a given framework
be, does not endeavour to grind them into the ground, even
if it ranks them as (decidedly) less adequate, further from
‘the truth, and so on. So it is with (restored) deep ecology,
as regards various plurallstic groupings: it is a much more
satisfactory position than resource conservation, and a vast
improvement on mainstream theorising, and of course much
more congenial to deep-green theory than these or any
greyer positions.

3. Green, deep green and deep ecology. The” cr itique of deep
ecology has led to a different sort of position, tentatively
entitled ‘deep-green theory’. It is worth pulllng together
l~ading themes of this theory, and comparing and contrasting
them with those· of deep ecology, as is done in Figure 9.

~9.

A COMPRRISOH OF DEEP ECOLOGY AHD DEEP-GREEH THEORY, IH CAPSULE FORM.

Dup ecology

Deep green theory

wider-value the … e
rejectLon

or

greater value

.s5ul”lptlon, by
blospherLc
e:g.sl.leri.anls,”,

)

bLosp’!cLes L.. part.i.allty
{ ex locentr i.es”,

b locen t r Ls”
ec~l”9le8l

un ,”versa 1.5 ••

defeas lb le valut!-“a”, ~n9
ch8racte”~:!Itic!l

natural systel”ls

85

Lnh:gral,

Lrreduc i.vl.e

t!)Clre .. e hol”.”
cos”le

Moderate holls”,
transpersonal

ldentl.t.~

ldenU.( i..catlon
.. 8X .”8l

satlsi..ztng on value
det.er”,tnate:iI:

self-reaLi.sati.on
I.l.”,lted lnlerfe:rence

onl~

wllh naturaL .Y!5te”s;

rl:stri..cted rlghts thereto
hands-oH
praetlees

strong actlon

.t

respectrul use

co … ” l t … en t to I. .. p Le .. !!” t
pri.nclples
pr i..nc i..p le

weak action

principle

.pp l lcat lons to t:cono .. les I
po1.Lti..cs and pOlLcy.

espec i..ally In env i.. ron”f!n ta 1.

areas (see f <gure I)
"ne lus Lon i.n deepe ren" lron",ent. L par.dlg'"

(sn (lS'Jre 6B)

A major difference between the theories lies in the distribution of values. Deep ecology, Hke slmpler utllltar1anism,
offers a un1que 1nitial distr1bution: each Hving thing is
ass1gned equal value and nothing else has intrinsic value.

Deep-green theory, whlle rejecting both the themes upon
which this slmplistic assignment depends, is much less specific as to how value is distributed. But certaInly it is spread
on to thIngs – wholes, collectives, syste’lls as well as IndivIduals – whIch are not alIve, and it does not cover all
thIngs that are Hving. Nor Is It distrIbuted into those thIngs
that have the quallty In an equal fashIon, except In the trivIal sense that all have, or partake of, value. Some thIngs
that have value are much more valuable than others; there
Is some weak (and partial) order’ing of thIngs wIth value. It
is these th1ngs that are worth conservIng, preserving, and so
on, the more the more valuable they are. Thus the theory is
axiocentric, value-centred.

Value is assesse’d through some mix of va!ue-‘Tlaking
characteristics, including such defeasible ecologk:al universals as stability, resllience, n~turalness, diversity, r1chn~s~.

scarci ty and so forth (cf. also Rodman, p. 90). But there are.

considerable constraints on how this is done. For example,
constraints may rule out forestry enrichment of a natural
primitive forest by foreign pioneer species. One constraint,
that of impartiality, substitutes for (satislzation) egalitar1an1sm. Accord1ng to the requ1rement of b1ospec1es 1mpart1al1ty,
wh1ch excludes certain types of class chauv1n1sm, a th1ng
cannot be ranked as valuable or ahead of another slmply by
v1rtue of belonging to some spec1es (e.g. be1ng human) or
favoured b1olog1cal c:lass; such class f~atures are not in
39 There is ..1 nest ot – false dichotomies hereabouts, several of them, including th.]t of individualism/holism, disentangled in EP2.

40 This thellll’ is argued In detail elst’where, e.g. JB. This familiar case
against all relation~ being internal also tells against Naess’s metaphysical position, often erroneously written into deep ecology.

41 There art.’ again satisfactory middle ways between idealist total unification and (Hulllean) empiricist separation; for details see EP2 and also
JB.

42 For part Ilf the detailed argument, see Sylvan 84. For some of the other
interpretdtions of quantum theory, see e.g. DeWitt and Graham. For a
neutral t,)rlllulation of mysticism see Plumwood and Routley: such formulations undermine a key part of Passmore’s argument in 74 from deeper
elw;ronrncntalislll to rubbish.

43 As discU’,.,ed in EP, p. 141ff.

44 Under Fox’s presentation, ‘deep ecology’ has some strange bed-fellows
(but to fdil to recognise these fellow travellers is to fail to appreciate
the mc’taphysical thrus t of deep ecology and its true antecedents). The
American philosopher, William James, long ago popularised Fox’s ‘central illtuition’ of the world as a ‘seamless whole’, but his pragmatic
pluralism, though presumably allowing for nature mysticism along with
Christianity, affords no glimpses of deep ecology proper. The philosophy
of holislll of the South ifrican philosopher-statesman, Jan Smuts, anticipated the holistic/lnechanistic confront.:ltion of West Coast deep eco-‘

logy, and the victory of holism, but aga;n, like the neo-Hegelians, without requisite ecosystemic depth. However Smuts grasped ‘the biological
news’ (Fox, p. 198) slightly earlier and rather more obviously than
Whitehead.

45 An inadequate description is often given of this process of deadening,
when what it predolflinan t Iy amount~ to is deintensionaliza tion, and life
and mental features are only some among a spectrum of intensional
o’nes, And restoration illvolves not ~o much reenchantment or revitalisation a~ reintensionalisation.

46 Adverti~ement from MOl’lash University, headed ‘Earth First’, for three
seminar~ by Naess, Octuber 1984.

47 For instance, in Animal Liberation.

48 Extrellle holism, which has nothing essentially ecologically deep about
it, dOl.’sfl’t blend easily or satisfactorily with perception theory.

49 Also dt work is the curious drive to reduce relations to identity. The
positive task of explication of identification, like a number of other
tasks in the positive elaboration of a replacement for deep ecology, is
not attempted here.

50 1 recent conference theme approvingly reported by Deval!. A related,
and c’qually mistaken, chauvinistic theme of personal development first;
before ellvironmental matters, is also adv.:lnced by Devall (83, p. 7).

The ‘rnojor theme emergin~ through the conference’ shares several of
the ddects of tIll’ consciousness approach. It is the theme of “‘finding
111 YOllr own roots” some basis for 0 more ecological social structure and
psyclllllogy’. Many people hove little or nothing in their own roots.

Tho5l’ that do lI1ay find only a shallow basis. And in any case, much may
be new and not well represented in history (as e.g., the use of clever,
simple ideas or technology).

51 For the main expansion see Dreng~on 83 and DEP No.!. There is now a
rich literature on the environmerital paradigms and the connection with
deep ecology: for references sec l’~pecially The Trumpeter.

52 For it’adlllg theses of all these purudigm~, see the tabulation in
Routk’y 85.

53 Unt’cs of course this single parameter (value, in some guise, really) is

themselves value-mak1ng character1st1cs. Such an account of
how value 1s assessed rema1n however far from specif1c, and
sometimes of little use 1n pract1ce. Undoubtedly deep-green
theory too owes some more exact theory of value.

Deep-green theory, In turn, inv1tes comparison with the
platform of the West German Greens. They have much in
common. Both fit together with1n a deeper env1ronmental
alternative to the dom1nant sodal paradIgm; compare Figure
6(B) which in fact sets out several of the ma1n objectives of
the Greens. The four central pr1nciples of the Greens’ platform, namely ecological, soc1al, grassroots democrat1c, and
nonviolent politics, and much of the1r more specific elaborat10n (e.g. through themes of more selective economic
growth, harmony w1th nature, pr10rity to local community
bases, etc.) Hkew1se appear in elaboratlons of deeper env1ronmental paradigms . Of course Greens and deepgreen do not co1ncide everywhere by any means; to take a
rather tr1v1al example, deep green theory would take some
except10n to the Green metaphor of partnersh1p w1th nature
On place of exploitation). Where they may diverge consp1cuously 1s over the principles wh1ch make for depth, such
as biospec1es impart1ality. The Greens’ platform, des1gned to
cover a broad all1ance of ecologically-1nclined members,
quite properly makes room for shallower env1ronmental pos1tions. The divergence emerges particularly 1n the ‘overall
1mage of the ideal green soc1ety’ (which Mares finds emerg1ng from the Green Party’s platform, p. 34); for the landscape envisaged remains a human dominated socially owned
one, devoid, it seems, of large wild creatures, wild rivers
and wilderness.

54

55

.56

57
5g

59

60

61

speci ..tlly engineered to reflect the other features; for an inadequate
and overly anthropocentric attempt to do this through richness, see e.g.

Vliller. A major difficulty with richness, for instance, is that there are
coses (some indicated below) where increasing richness, in the straightforward sense, decreases net value.

Very recent work designed to plug the gap, by Naess and others, cannot
be regarded as particularly successful. The issues will be taken up in

.

la ter publications, e.g. Sylvan 85.

However Devall and Sessions mistakenly equate righteous management
(which they trace to Vluir) with essentially ‘hands off’ management (84,
p. 14). But the equation can only hold for bioregiC’.ns zoned or left as
such, and b,ils elsewhere, e.g. for regions where restoration is,
attempted, where production agriculture or forestry is practised, and so
on. Ilevall and Sessions are continuing to operate in terms of an old
fabe (‘ontrast, between modern economic use and no use at all. But in
betwf’en lie such important intermediate notions as that of needful use
and ot respectful use (discussed in EP).

–.–Ip.lrt from topio already listed in Figure I, there is now a standard
range of applications to such issues as: nuclear and other hazardous
materials and wastes, dangerous chemicals, genetic engineering, arid.

lands and desert if ica tion, acid rain, ozone destruction, etc., etc. The
applicdtions Naess has outlined (in 83) afford a useful start on some of
the topics concerned, and on showing the very significant differences
between shallow and deep theory. But it is a start only; most of the
hard work relnains to be atte!npted.

‘ie<" simii<lrly, Nacss 85. I)ut Naess believes it 'inevitable to maintain
',ol11e fairly ~trong central political institutions (p. 15). Here however'

N<lI~ss is moving ugainst the strong current of green thought.

;11 this turns on the ‘extent’ of intrinsic value they have. What has
requisite independent value (e.g. through its own worthwhile telos) pre,;unlably should not be owned, or simply bought and sold, andsocannot
“erve fully as a commodity.

In several respects deep ecology has a religious, almost biblical, ring
oIbout it. Consider, for instance, the recent emphases on righteous ways,
tor instance righteous livelihoods and righteous agricultural manage1I1(:’nt, the idea of salvation through consciousness change or conversion,
the reestablishrnent of right relations, i.e. earth relations under a new
paradigm (an internalised relation), and the adapt ion (as in the Greenpeace organisation) of the Quaker practice of bearing witness. It is not
however that the dominant paradigm is free of religious aspects; consider, for instance, the also unlikely assumptions of salvation through
industrialisation (e.g. as resolving overpopulation problems) and through
concerted economic growth (e.g. in eliminating poverty and improving
quality of life and environment).

Of course people commi tted to agribusiness, Western medicine, and the
like, will dispute this. ()ut thL’ flimsiness of their case is increasingly
eVident as the term lengthens. On the complexity of the matter of following Nature, which, so the Law implies, is what we should do, see
Rolston. Commoner himself explain the Law as follows: any major manmade Change in a natural sy~tem is likely to be detrimental to that’

-;ystem (p. 41).

Again the transposition of 19th century anarchist social assumptions is
evident. The points outlined also tell against various shallower attempts
in the Philosophy Department, Research School of Social Sciences,
Australian National University to offer foundations for morality, notably
Stanley Benn’s in terms of persons, and Keith Campbell’s through a
1I10dified Stoic theory.

21

62 Though grey (for granite) was for a time Muir’s favoured apparel colour, and green has distressingly wide use for battle fatigues. Blue, instead of grey, is definitely wrong, despite (and because of) its conventional links with conservativeness. The shades-of-green contrast can
be conveniently combined with the useful European three-dimensional
replacement of the out-dated two-dimensional left-right political classification. The combined d,mensions are those depicted:

blue
pale green
(right)
deep green
red
(left)

green

63 This common 19th-century social anarchist sentiment, hardly confirmed
‘;ince then, seems to underlie several of Naess’s and Devall’s pronounceIllents. The assumption appears to be that in the sought end-state, ecotopia or the future primitive or whatever, the natural goodness of
(mature) humans will emerge (or reemerge).

61t What is wanted is a relation, not of identity, but of (partial) identification (cL footnote 1t8). It is such a relat,on which enables a person to be
put in the position of another (there but for … go I) or of a quite different thing: it is such a relation which operates behind veils of ignor;)nce which remove irrelevant features, permitting qualified substitution.

65 The Tao of Physics, pp. 68-9, italics added. Th,s book is among the
‘Books of Deep Ecology’, and is much cited by followers of deep ecology.

66 William Aiken, Brian rvlartin and Louise Sylvan made valuable comments
on an earlier version of this critique. Arne Naess has already drafted a
response to the critique, and other responses are, I understand, to
follow.

Note: DEP abbreviates Discussion Papers in Environmental Philosophy. Other
acronyms are indicated in the reference list.

R. Attfield, The Ethics of Environmental Concern, Blackwell, Oxford, 1983.

R. Attfield, Review of D. Scherer and T. Attig’s Ethics and the Environment, Metaphilosophy 1981t, to appear.

D. Bennett (ed.), Environment, Ethics, Ecology, Canberra, 1985, to appear.

C. Birch and J.B. Cobb, The Liberation of Life, Cambridge University Press,
1983.

M. Bookchin, The Ecology of Freedom, Cheshire Books, Palo Alto, 1982.

F. Capra, The Tao of Physics, Fontana, Glasgow, 1976.

B. Commoner, The Closing Circle, Knopf, New York, 1971.

B. Devall, ‘Stone/sky: Reflections on the “real work” of deep ecology’, in
Bennett 85.

B. DevaJJ and G. Sessions, Deep Ecology, Peregrine Smith Books. Lay ton,
Utah, 1981t.

B. DevaJJ and G. Sessions, ‘The development of natural resources and the
integrity of nature: contrasting views of management’, typescript,
Rocklin, California, 1981t.

B.S. DeWitt and N. Graham (eds.), The Many-Worlds Interpretation of
Quantum Mechanics, Princeton University Press, 1973.

A. Drengson, Shifting Paradigms, LightStar, Victoria, BC, 1983.

A. Drengson (ed.), The Trumpeter, LightStar, Victoria, BC,; several issues
1983-4.

W. Fox, ‘Deep ecology: a new philosophy of our time?’, The Ecologist 14
(1984), 194-200.

A. Gare, ‘The shaJJow and the deep, long-range critique of scienee’, typescript, Murdoch University, 1982.

N. Grif~in and D. Bennett, ‘The ethics of triage’, Discussion Papers in
EnVironmental Philosophy, No. 8, Research School of Social Sciences,
Australian National University, 1984.

G. Hardin, Exploring New Ethics for Survival, Penguin, 1977. ‘ h _
W. James, Essays in Radical Empiricism, Harvard University Press,
Cambridge, Mass., 1976.

A. Leopold, A Sand Country Almanac with other essays in Conservation,
Oxford University Press, New York, 1966.

D. Mannison and others (eds.), Environmental Philosophy, Research School of
Social Sciences, Australian National University, 1980.

P. Mares, ‘Green ideals, German realities’, Chain Reaction 39 (1984), 33-36.

P. Miller, ‘Value as richness’, Environmental Ethics 4 (1982), 100-114.

G.E. Moore, Principia Ethica, Cambridge University Press, 1903.

A. Naess, ‘The shallow and the deep, long-range ecology movement. A
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