Watershed Restoration: Principles and Practices

Chapter 2: Ethical Principles

E. P. Pister

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781888569049.ch2

It became apparent to me some years ago that technology seemed to be creating far more resource management problems than it was solving. Philosophical issues—values—were almost totally ignored, both by agency administrators and the educational institutions that produced them. No doubt much of this problem stemmed from the fact that most biologists were taught by professors who had neither read a philosophy paper nor showed any real interest in doing so. Only in their later years, when biologists begin to mature and think more of leaving meaningful legacies than of achieving agency or academic advancement and prestige, does philosophical depth normally emerge.

Such depth was, of course, the hallmark of environmentalist Aldo Leopold (1887–1948), whose book A Sand County Almanac has become a philosophical Bible of conservation and preservation. I was fortunate to have studied wildlife conservation at Berkeley under A. Starker Leopold, Aldo’s eldest son, beginning in 1949, the year following his father’s untimely death. Starker was a chip off the old block, so wildlife values quickly became a major part of my education. Even so, I did not recognize the significance of this fortuitous association for more than a decade (Pister 1987).