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Practical Reasons and Environmental Commitment

Abstract and Keywords

The giving of reasons is a way of making sense of what we do, both to ourselves and to others. Three kinds of reason are distinguished: reasons for doing something, reasons to do something, and reasons why we do something. Following a suggestion of Bernard Williams, it is argued that reasons for doing something must key into our actual or potential motivational repertoire. Environmental commitment is a case in point. By inviting us to “regard” land as a community, for example, Aldo Leopold is attempting to promote such commitment by inviting us to share his motivational repertoire. Alternative attempts that appeal to features such as intrinsic value, a caring ethic, and the requirements of human flourishing are briefly discussed but are found wanting. The chapter concludes with a sketch of how environmental commitment might be more effectively keyed into our quest for meaning.

Keywords: practical reasons, environmental commitment, internalism, externalism, the land ethic, motivational repertoire, meaningful relationships

This discussion of practical reasons has two main aims. The first is to distil the findings of some recent work on the topic and to draw attention to some important distinctions, especially the distinction between reasons that are internal and reasons that are external (Williams, 1981). The second is to use those findings in order to ascertain what kinds of reasons might be the most effective in promoting an “environmentalist” stance—the stance of one who, as Aldo Leopold succinctly puts it, “cannot live without wild things” (1949: vii).

1 The Nature of Reasons

1.1 Some Distinctions

Practical reasons have a twofold function. Being practical rather than theoretical, they are reasons for doing something (or nothing), rather than reasons for thinking that something is the case. Being reasons for doing something, the other function of practical reasons is to make sense of what we do, both to ourselves and to others. Making sense of what we do is often understood in terms of placing and relating what we do within some wider context. But the relationship here is reciprocal. Insofar as it is the function of reasons to make sense of what we do, having reasons for what we do in turn contributes meaning to our lives.

There are reasons why we do something, there are reasons to do something, and there are reasons for doing something. How do these differ, and how are they related? As a first approximation we can say that “reasons for” are reasons that we actually have and would consciously avow—“operative reasons,” as Scanlon (1998: 19) calls them. To say that they are reasons that we actually have is to say, among other things, that they form part of the explanation for our action. “Reasons why,” on the other hand, while they also form part of the explanation for our action, are not necessarily reasons that we would avow, or are even aware of. They would figure in a biography, but not necessarily in an autobiography. “Reasons to” do (p. 152) something are different again. They do not necessarily form part of the explanation for our action, nor are they necessarily reasons that we actually have or would consciously avow. For example we might be said to have a reason to do something but fail to act for that reason due to ignorance, which means, in turn, that it will not figure as part of the explanation for our action. And this is true whether or not we perform the act that we have reason to perform. “Reasons for” both explain and justify our actions. “Reasons to” in fact do neither but are capable of doing both. “Reasons why” explain but do not justify.

1.2 Reasons and Desires

Two versions of what it is to have a reason for action go, very roughly, as follows:

  1. (i) An agent has a reason for doing X if he or she has reason to believe that X-ing is a step toward or is partly constitutive of something worthwhile: this is an “internalist” reading.

  2. (ii) An agent has a reason for doing X if there is reason to believe that X-ing is a step toward or is partly constitutive of something worthwhile: this is an “externalist” reading.

We shall return shortly to the distinction between the internalist and externalist readings, and to the claim, implied by the inclusion of the notion of what is worthwhile, that the ascription of reasons has a normative dimension. Already we see that reasons for action are by no means always instrumental to the achieving of some desired or desirable end, but might, for example, be experimental, creative, or expressive (cf. Holland, 2002: 28–31). And note also that whether the end is described as desired or desirable, we face a dilemma. If it is desired, then it may in addition be highly undesirable—which makes it at least a moot point whether we have reason to pursue it. If it is desirable, this is to say that there is reason to desire it, so that to include the notion of what is desirable in an account of what it is to have a reason for action is to generate a regress.

It was claimed earlier that reasons “make sense of” what we do. If this is true, and in light of the considerations just mentioned, it seems clear that bare wants or desires, which are sometimes assumed to be paradigmatic (or at least default) reasons for doing something, are not reasons at all (Raz, 1997: 113–115).1 In the first place, to say that we are doing “what we want” does not “make sense of” what we do at all, but merely signals the fact that we are acting voluntarily rather than performing some involuntary movement. In the second place, there is no reason whatever for supposing that doing what we want achieves anything that can be described as worthwhile, or that it can supply the slightest justification for doing something.

As distinct from bare wants or desires, considered or informed desires—more usually called “preferences”—present a different case. But if considered or informed preferences provide reasons for doing something, it is not because they are preferences, but because they are considered or informed. As Joseph Raz persuasively argues (1997: 115), desires function as reasons only if there are reasons for the desires. More generally, it would seem that only of a being who is already conceived of as a voluntary agent, and who is therefore capable of action (rather than mere movement), could it be said that he or she acts for a reason (cf. Scanlon, 1998: 20–22). The task of reasons is thus to explain or justify why this action rather than that action was performed; it is not to explain or to justify, de novo, why any action at all was performed.

(p. 153) 1.3 Internalism and Externalism

But how does what there is reason to do become a reason that we have, an operative reason, something that we have a reason for doing? In an article that has become a classic in the field, Bernard Williams provides the following answer: an agent has a reason for performing action A only if she could reach the conclusion that she should A by a “sound deliberative route” from her “subjective motivational set,” which he refers to simply as “S,” where S is understood to contain “dispositions of evaluation, patterns of emotional reaction, personal loyalties … projects … [and] … commitments” (1981: 105).2 He proceeds to defend this “internalist” view of reasons for action against an “externalist” view that denies the necessity for such a condition: the externalist claims that an agent can be said to have reason for performing action A even though no such deliberative route is available.

Nevertheless, as noted, for example, by both Richard Norman (2001: 17) and John Brunero (2007: 23), Williams allows considerable latitude in how we are to interpret the notions of “subjective motivational set” and “sound deliberative route.” And this fact makes it a little difficult to determine where exactly the line between the internalist and externalist positions is to be drawn.3 The problem is this: there just is no telling whether the agent could in principle, and by some conceivable deliberative route, come to believe the purportedly external reason or not. Absent belief in some strong form of determinism, this has to be a totally indeterminate matter. Suppose, for example, that an agent indulges in counterfactual deliberations as even a necessary and salutary part of her strategy in coming to a decision about what to do. Suppose, specifically, that it is part of her current motivational set to be disposed to ask herself: “What if one or more of my current motivational set were different—how would things look then?” In that event it seems possible that any purportedly external reason could turn out to be an internal reason after all. It is not obvious, at any rate, that she could not in this way reach a conclusion somewhat at odds with the one to which the balance of her current motivation set would seem to point. Nor does the indulgence in counterfactual deliberation have to be self-initiated. It might be suggested by a friend or adviser.

Williams defends the internalist position by arguing that if R is someone’s reason for acting then R must figure in an explanation of that action, and that “no external reason statement could by itself offer an explanation of anyone’s action” (1981: 106). What also needs to be true (at least) is that the agent believes R to be a reason for the action in question. But even for an agent to believe R to be a reason for the action in question, it is Williams’s contention that an appropriate “actual or potential motivational repertoire” needs to be in place (1981: 107–108).

However, we cannot at this point brush off a concern that motivates many externalists and is articulated most clearly by John McDowell (1995). To express the concern bluntly, if melodramatically: we cannot countenance a theory of practical reason that has as a possible consequence that a torturer or serial killer has a perfectly good reason for what they do. For if the torturer counts among her subjective motivational set a determination to seek out that activity that best fits her particular set of skills, or if the serial killer counts the killing of anyone who should annoy him as among the most basic of his projects or commitments, then each can no doubt find a “sound deliberative route” to her or his chosen careers. Nor does it seem adequate to respond by saying that it is their morality rather than their rationality that is at fault. For it is the fact that they might claim to have a perfectly good reason for what they do that cannot be allowed to stand. But neither is it an adequate response to say that they are (p. 154) irrational, for it may be that their reasoning, as such, cannot be faulted. However, what can, perhaps, be said, is that the torturer or serial killer is exhibiting a condition that is “pathological.” In itself, this is hardly an explanatory term. But it is, perhaps, symptomatic: symptomatic of the fact that those who exhibit such proclivities are considered to be answerable in some way to what we might call “the court of human sentiment.”

Thus, what seems rather to be true is that ascriptions of reasons contain an external “justificatory” element: to claim that an agent has a perfectly good reason for what she does implies among other things not simply (and perhaps not at all) that she believes she is justified in what she does, but that she really is justified. And different accounts are, of course, available, as to what makes actions unjustified. Perhaps the action itself is judged to be morally wrong, whether for utilitarian reasons or on Kantian grounds. Perhaps it is judged to exhibit one or more of the serious vices. Or perhaps it is held, simply, to display characteristics that lie far outside the acceptable range of human responses. If any of these criticisms stand, the claim that an agent has a perfectly good reason for what she does is open to challenge. But at the same time, and even if one or more of these criticisms should stand, they do not automatically defeat the claim that an agent acts for good reason. This depends on the situation.

And here we glimpse another factor that bears on the question of whether an agent has a good reason for her action: the concrete situation in which she finds herself.4 Our motivational repertoire, including our beliefs about what we do and do not have reason to do is, in part, a function of our external circumstances. So if, for example, an agent must steal in order to survive, she may be said to have good reason for her action. But however strongly motivated she may be, it is not this that makes her reason a good one. Whether it is or not will still depend on an external critical judgment to the effect that her situation makes the action defensible.5 The example brings out two important, if surprising, corollaries. The first is that if it remains wrong to steal even in these circumstances, then we do not always have good reason to act morally; or, at any rate, that any reason to act morally can be outweighed by nonmoral considerations such as need, pure and simple. The second is that the external critical viewpoint can override what agents themselves believe they have reason to do.6

To summarize: for people to be said to have good reason for what they do, in a sense that also explains what they do, all of the features upon which internalists insist have to be in place—in particular, the appropriate motivational repertoire and the sound deliberative route. This is not sufficient, however, for the persons to be said to have good reason for what they do. For this to be the case, the action also has to withstand external critical scrutiny. Thus both internalists and externalists draw attention to features that are necessary for it to be said that agents have a perfectly good reason for what they do. But neither account is by itself sufficient.

2 How to Make the Environment Matter

2.1 Leopold and the Land Ethic

At the very beginning of the foreword to A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold writes: “There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot. These essays are the delights and dilemmas of one who cannot” (1949: vii). This comes as close as one could wish to being a definition of “an environmentalist”: one who cannot live without (p. 155) wild things. And the essays that follow contain an uncanny anticipation of what our discussion so far has identified as some of the key elements that have to be in place if one is to give people reasons to share that point of view.

First, there is Leopold’s emphasis on terms such as “community” and “health”—terms that are guaranteed to tap into most people’s “actual or potential motivational repertoire,” and from which they might be expected to derive an appropriate environmentalist agenda. The main competitor against which Leopold runs his notions of community and health is that of human (economic) interests. And this too, just like the notions of community and health, might be expected to tap into people’s actual (rather than merely potential) motivational repertoire, and thus provide people with considerable incentive for action. Indeed, current thinking in environmental policy circles—exemplified most obviously in the emphasis on “ecosystem services”—seems to be of the persuasion that action derived from the motivation to preserve ecosystem services is the closest we are likely to get to something approaching the environmentalist agenda. Leopold, however, finds economically motivated actions inimical to the ecological community and to ecological health; and environmental philosophers tend to side with Leopold. As Eric Katz puts it: “an environmental ethic cannot be based on human interests because of the contingent relationship between human interests and the welfare of the natural environment” (1985: 242–243 n. 3).

A second, and even more interesting way in which Leopold anticipates our foregoing analysis is the “invitation” that he issues in the matter of how we should regard “the land” (soils, waters, plants, and animals): “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect” (1949: viii). This should be read not as an argument for the proposition that land is a community, but as an invitation for us to shift our motivational repertoire—to “see” land as a community. Leopold is thus adopting precisely the strategy that we attributed to our agent who asked herself: “How would I act if one or more parts of my current motivational set were different?” He is asking us to consider what it would be like to conceive of land differently. And indeed, the bulk of the essays that follow are devoted to showing what it would be like, in Leopold’s view, to conceive of land as a community. We would, for example, be concerned for the “health” of land, as we are for that of a community, and might indeed see it in somewhat similar terms as “the capacity for self-renewal.” We would be distressed when land became “sick”—when its formerly characteristic denizens dwindle to vanishing point, as we are when communities “die”—when village shops, schools, and even local places of worship are closed down. Above all, our criterion of right action would be focused, in all likelihood, around the beauty, integrity and stability of such a community. But although Leopold succeeds admirably in showing us what it would be like to share his point of view, it is not obvious that he has succeeded in giving us reasons for sharing his point of view.

2.2 The Appeal to Intrinsic Value

Since Leopold wrote, discussion of the reasons that might be offered in support of the environmentalists’ stance has tended to revolve around the ascription of intrinsic value to nature. Protecting the natural world is worthwhile because we are protecting something that has intrinsic value. However, Jonathan Dancy has already sounded a warning note about the ability of the appeal to value to constitute a determinate reason for action: “Though (p. 156) value-facts are about practical relevance,” he observes, “they do not themselves specify the actions concerned … .[t]‌hat something is good … is not an explicit answer to any question what to do or what not to do” (2006: 137). And if the appeal to value is based on the finding that both individuals and collective entities can be said to have “constitutive goods,” that is, goods that are constitutive of their flourishing, then the situation is even worse. For not only do such appeals provide no determinate reason for action—they provide no reason for action at all. No doubt such constitutive goods are ubiquitous in nature, and no doubt they are as objectively real as anything is, but, as John O’Neill remarks: “That Y is a good of X does not entail that Y should be realised.” He goes on to observe: “This gap clearly raises problems for environmental ethics” (1992: 132).

Taken in another sense, the “non-instrumental” sense (O’Neill, 1992: 119), the ascription of intrinsic value to nature can be read as an endorsement of Leopold’s view that land is not, or should not be treated as, a commodity. But in the first place, it is difficult to imagine how one might set about showing that land is not a commodity. And if the claim is that land should not be treated as a commodity, we still lack a reason for not treating it so.

At this point, we might fall back on an extensionalist appeal to the intrinsic value that we (have reason to) attach to individual humans, and therefore, by extension, have reason to attach, albeit perhaps in decreasing measure, to all living beings.

But if the ascription of intrinsic value to humans is supposed to have Kantian authority, this strategy does not look promising. It is true that in Kant’s view, humans have a special status. By virtue of their rational natures, they are said to be “ends-in-themselves” and therefore to have “intrinsic worth” or “dignity.” But to claim on this basis that human beings have a “value” that is intrinsic is to imply that they have something (intrinsically) that is of the same kind as other things have instrumentally, which is not obviously consistent with Kant’s view of their special status. Furthermore, we cannot overlook the fact that, for Kant, humans have “value” or worth solely because of their capacity to enact the moral law. Failing the discovery of this capacity elsewhere in the biosphere, therefore, the attempt to extend this concept is an attempt to deploy what is essentially a Kantian notion shorn of its Kantian roots and therefore shorn of its Kantian justification.

Holists will have their own objections to the proposal that the basis for environmental commitment is to be found in the intrinsic value of individual living things. From their perspective, it is neither necessary nor sufficient to generate the reasons that we seek. Not necessary because the environmentalist agenda cannot possibly hope to make provision for every single individual living thing. Not sufficient because collective entities—species, ecosystems, habitats and the like—have claims that cannot be disaggregated into the claims of their constitutive individual members.

But aside from the objections that holists might bring to the proposal, there is also a metaphysical objection: it assumes a one-size-fits-all understanding of the concept of “individual” that is untenable. First, there is a distinction between “individuals” that exhibit a degree of integrity and coherence, and mere “particulars,” such as a piece of wood, which do not. Second, among individual organisms, there is a distinction between those that are divisible, such as delphiniums and snowdrop bulbs, and those that are not: it makes no sense, for example, to speak of half a squirrel, or three-quarters of a badger. Third, there is the problem of how to account for the micro-organisms that hang out, for example, around the roots of trees and in the guts of mammals. Are they individuals in their own right or are they simply (p. 157) parts of the larger organisms to whose existence they are vital? These metaphysical issues bring normative problems in their wake: Which bits of the world exactly count as individuals, for example, and therefore as “morally considerable”? Are some (kinds of) individuals more deserving of consideration than others?

2.3 Some Desiderata

If the appeal to intrinsic value is found wanting, where then are we to find the reasons for environmental commitment, and what conditions would they have to satisfy? They would not have to be reasons that are external in the sense that they would be reasons for absolutely anyone, no matter what their motivational repertoire. But they would have to be reasons that are robust enough to withstand external critical scrutiny. They would also have to be reasons for anyone judged to lie “within the court of human sentiment,” and they would have to remain reasons despite the presence of irrationality, folly, intransigence, dogmatism, and insensitivity—any of which might affect any of us at any time and prevent our “seeing matters aright.” In short they would be reasons for anyone judged to be displaying “practical wisdom.”7 Some have sought to find such reasons in the domain of the various relationships that bind us to the natural world.

2.4 The Appeal to Relationships

Among considerations that are inherently “relational,” reasons based on an appeal to self-interest, human interests, or human sentiment will often satisfy all of these necessary requirements and will sometimes afford good (enough) reasons for taking environmental action. But it is unlikely that any of them will prove sufficiently robust or will coincide with sufficient reliability with the environmentalist agenda to form the basis of what we are looking for. Others turn to virtue ethics in the belief that if we inculcate in ourselves and others dispositions to love, care for, respect, wonder at, and be humble before the natural world, we shall find reason enough to act appropriately toward it. The approach holds some promise though it is as yet in the early stages of development. Suffice it here to identify one or two of the challenges that it faces. One is how far the attitudes to which appeal is usually made are even appropriate attitudes to hold with respect to the natural world; and conversely, how far the natural world displays features toward which it is appropriate to hold these attitudes. One thinks in particular of “love,” “care,” and similar attitudes. The phrase “friends of the Earth” is of course a familiar one. But if Aristotle is right, one cannot literally be a “friend” of the Earth, any more than one can be friends with a bottle of wine (1925: 194 [1155b27]). And it is surely a moot point, for example, how much of the natural world is lovable—as distinct from ugly, bleak, or downright hateful, as many artists ranging from Virgil (“lacrimae rerum”—the tears of things) to the English composer Benjamin Britten (“the cruel beauty of nature”) have thought. Further, “care” is a term usually reserved for those who are perceived as in need of care, as vulnerable in some way, and hence it might not be universally appropriate. This leads directly to a second challenge arising from doubts about how widely applicable these attitudes are—how much of the natural world can plausibly be perceived as lovable or needy, for example—which is whether they could come anywhere near (p. 158) supporting the environmentalist agenda as a whole. A third challenge echoes the difficulty that Dancy raises regarding the appeal to value, which is to specify what actions exactly flow from the exhortation that we should love, care for, respect, wonder at, and be humble before the natural world.

A rather different approach is recommended by John O’Neill, who suggests that we might look to the requirements for human flourishing to find the reasons that we seek. The suggestion is that “For a large number of, although not all, individual living things and biological collectives, we should recognise and promote their flourishing as an end in itself” because “such care for the natural world is constitutive of a flourishing human life” (1992: 133). The appeal to human flourishing will tap into most people’s motivational repertoire and will readily be recognized as a worthwhile objective, while several “deliberative routes” might be devised to take us from that set of motivations toward actions and policies that are expressive of environmental commitment. But this approach, too, is open to challenge. One has to ask how the promotion of flourishing can constitute a clear objective in an arena where “flourishing” is quite clearly a “competitive” good. In cases where A and B belong to the same species, for example, or cases where A is predator and B is prey, one often cannot promote the flourishing of A without at the same time demoting the flourishing of B. An associated difficulty arising from the fact that flourishing is a competitive good is that we can never be sure whether and how far the flourishing of non-humans might be inimical to, rather than constitutive of, the flourishing of humans. The so-called “pest” species come to mind—rats, mosquitoes, and the like. Perhaps we see here the basis of O’Neill’s parenthesis “although not all.” But in that case, it is less clear that we have found a basis for the environmentalist agenda, which would tend to frown on the proposal that we “play favorites” with species. A final difficulty arises from the fact that flourishing is so rare a condition of creatures in the wild, most of whom meet their end long before they reach maturity. Because of this, if human flourishing were to depend for its sustenance on the flourishing of natural beings and collections of natural beings, as is held to be the case on this approach, there would be a risk of its becoming seriously malnourished.

There are, however, other ways of developing the appeal to relationships. Recall again, and finally, our earlier claim that a primary role of reasons is to make sense of our actions. If this is true, then the very fact that we attach such significance to the giving of reasons for our actions—indeed the fact that, for some, the capacity to act for reasons is the very mark of what makes us human8—is testament, in turn, to the importance that we attach to having meaning in our lives, to engaging in and being witness to meaningful relationships. Elizabeth Anderson, for one, suggests that people are apt to set more store by meaningful relationships than welfare or flourishing. “People want their welfare to be achieved in the context of meaningful relationships with others,” she writes (1993: 75); and again “People care about living meaningful lives, even at the cost of their welfare” (1993: 76). The suggestion is, then, that we have reason to embrace the deepest form of environmental commitment insofar as we seek to live meaningful lives, since some of the richest and most meaningful engagements are to be found both within and in our relationships with the natural world.

As before, the appeal to meaningful relationships is likely to tap into most people’s motivational repertoire, and it will readily be recognized as a worthwhile objective; but in this case, it is less clear perhaps what “deliberative routes” might be devised to take us from that set of motivations toward actions and policies that are expressive of environmental commitment. (p. 159) We conclude, therefore, with some suggestions about how the quest to sustain meaningful relations might be expected to yield environmental dividends:

  1. 1. The natural world provides both the context and framework of our lives: it is indeed the precondition of our being able to enjoy any meaningful relationships at all.

  2. 2. The natural world supplies the beat and rhythm of our lives through the succession of the seasons and the exchange of night and day.

  3. 3. It is through the responses of living organisms to this beat and rhythm that the inorganic natural world has this effect.9

  4. 4. It is the natural world rather than “man” (as Protagoras thought) that is the measure of all things—that affords the backdrop against which we can gauge the meaningfulness of our lives.

  5. 5. It is through the history of the biosphere—its temporal narrative—that we understand and can make sense of how we have come to be where we are (cf. Holland, 2011).

  6. 6. The natural world is where we dwell, which is therefore the ultimate source of our attachments to place and of our sense of belonging.

  7. 7. The meaningful engagements that are afforded by our interactions with the natural world and with the indefinite number and variety of its life forms are central to our lives.

  8. 8. More soberly, we must note that the natural world is not only a source of joy, but also of sadness, suffering, and cruelty; not only a source of beauty, but also of ugliness and bleakness; not only a source of variety, but also of monotony.

Hence, and finally, the real and underlying point of appealing to meaning as the robust and reliable source of environmental commitment is this: that, unlike many of the approaches previously canvassed, it is capable of withstanding some of the bleakest visions of the natural world to which, from time to time, mankind is capable of giving expression. If our commitment is to the natural world as such, then we cannot pick and choose. Leopold did not refer to his essays as the delights and dilemmas of one who cannot live without some wild things.


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                                        (1.) For more detailed argument, see Raz (1997: 113–115).

                                        (2.) S is perhaps better articulated by Peter Railton as an “agent’s actual or potential motivational repertoire,” because this does not suggest, nor is it Williams’s intention that it should, something given or determinate (Williams, 1981, cf. 1995: 35; Railton, 2006: 270).

                                        (3.) John McDowell’s “Might There Be External Reasons?” (1995) is the starting point for the following reflections.

                                        (4.) Recent empirical work to which Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir draw attention, for example (Scarcity, 2013), demonstrates the extent to which scarcity (in a variety of dimensions—time, money, friends, and so forth) enters our mindset and compromises our ability to make good decisions.

                                        (5.) If she is a deeply moral person she may indeed herself believe that she has no good reason for her action. She simply acts in desperation. Nevertheless, the external judgment still stands.

                                        (6.) But note that in doing so it is not at odds with Williams’s internalism requirement; indeed, one might argue that it rather presupposes it. For it is based on the assumption that the need to survive is indeed part of the agent’s motivational set, notwithstanding its coexistence with strong moral scruples (cf. Williams’s remarks about needs, 1981: 105–106).

                                        (7.) The issue of scale is important here. I am not personally inclined to dispute Erasmus’s charmingly argued case for the importance—indeed the value—of “practical folly” in human affairs, at least at the individual level (2004). But folly does become dangerous if practiced on a planetary scale, for example in the burning of fossil fuels, “as if there were no tomorrow,” which indeed there might not be, if we persist.

                                        (8.) On one interpretation of Aristotle’s characterization of humans as “rational animals.”

                                        (9.) Understandably perhaps, it is to nature writers rather than philosophers that we must look for articulation of these meanings—thus: “Trees that you have known all your life become, to those who love them, invested with the same individuality as the household gods … You have wintered and summered them, known them through long years in frost and snow, in sun, wind and rain. You know which branch comes earliest into leaf in spring … and which tree, intolerant of cold, first casts its flaming raiment down … Each tree has its great moment in the year” (Haggard, 1985: 140).