We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Hunting, Fishing, and Environmental Virtue

Reconnecting Sportsmanship and Conservation

Charles J. List

Publication Year: 2013

Published by: Oregon State University Press

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (502.2 KB)
pp. 1-4


pdf iconDownload PDF (474.0 KB)
pp. v-vii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (466.9 KB)
p. 8-8

Thanks first to my friend and fellow angler/philosopher John Spissinger, who challenged me to think about leisure and who read and commented on many versions of this book. Without his support and enthusiasm for this project, it may never have been completed. ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (463.0 KB)
pp. 9-12

Aldo Leopold once declared that North American hunters are puzzled. Seven decades later, I’d say that not much has changed. If anything, things have gotten worse. Hunting and angling have lost their ethical center. We seem incapable of rationally defending them against moral critics and, equally importantly, against pretended friends in commerce and politics. ...

read more

Part One: Philosophy and Field Sports

pdf iconDownload PDF (473.3 KB)
p. 13-13

In this first part I discuss the history and philosophical background for the sportsman thesis. Classically, there was thought to be a close connection between skills and virtues, one that has received considerable attention recently. ...

read more

Chapter One: The Sportsman Thesis

pdf iconDownload PDF (510.1 KB)
pp. 14-20

The sportsman thesis, broadly speaking, holds that hunting and angling are instrumental in the development of character. It’s a thesis as old as ancient Greece and as new as the latest issue of Fly Rod & Reel. Its career is full of twists and turns, rejection and rediscovery. ...

read more

Chapter Two: From Beginner to Expert

pdf iconDownload PDF (514.0 KB)
pp. 20-27

It is difficult to see how a good character may be derived from doing field sports because we don’t yet know how activities in general might even promote the development of virtue. It’s like someone saying that a given food is good for you, but not telling you what it is about the food that makes it so. ...

read more

Chapter Three: Choosing Character-Enriching Activities

pdf iconDownload PDF (544.4 KB)
pp. 27-35

While it may be clearer now what it means to be an expert at hunting or fishing, and how difficult it is to achieve practical wisdom in these areas, little has been said about character and how these activities might develop it as declared in the sportsman thesis. What is it about certain activities that make them a particularly suitable choice for character education? ...

read more

Part Two: Environmental Virtues and Field Sports

pdf iconDownload PDF (471.1 KB)
pp. 36-37

The view I am proposing is one version of the sportsman thesis: that field sports when practiced properly will lead to the development of certain environmental virtues. These virtues, while seemingly lower in the pantheon than Platonic courage or Aristotelian sagacity, and even Roosevelt’s manliness, have great importance in environmental ethics. ...

read more

Chapter Four: From Gentlemen to Conservationists

pdf iconDownload PDF (482.4 KB)
pp. 38-41

The traditional sportsman thesis boldly asserts that certain virtues will arise from the practice of field sports. However, it leaves unexplained, among other things, the way this might actually happen. The sportsman thesis does posit a brief answer to the question of which good is served, namely, the good of being a gentleman. ...

read more

Chapter Five: The Biotic Good

pdf iconDownload PDF (502.2 KB)
pp. 42-47

The question we must now confront is how field sports might be directed toward a new good, one that will require significant sacrifices. What is the good of the biotic community and how might field sports be directed to bring about this good? ...

read more

Chapter Six: Environmental Virtues

pdf iconDownload PDF (526.0 KB)
pp. 47-59

I have argued that field sports are the kinds of activities capable of generating virtue. There are two broad conditions necessary for attaining this status. First, such activities must be teachers of practical reasoning, the precondition for virtue formation. Certainly, the problem solving of field sports fits this model. ...

read more

Part Three: Problems for the Sportsman Thesis

pdf iconDownload PDF (475.1 KB)
pp. 60-63

There are several serious philosophical objections to the approach I have taken, which need to be addressed before the revised sportsman thesis is accepted. They will be the subject of Part Three. By answering these objections, I will develop a code for field sports, based upon the virtues already identified with alterations required to meet the objections. ...

read more

Chapter Seven: The Substitution Problem

pdf iconDownload PDF (543.2 KB)
pp. 61-70

The substitution problem is one that must be solved if my argument in the past chapters is to remain viable. It challenges the very core of my view in that it accepts that hunting and angling might generate virtues, even the very ones I’ve articulated, but asks why one should pursue them in field sports when other non-lethal substitute activities can do the same thing. ...

read more

Chapter Eight: Sport Hunting and Fishing

pdf iconDownload PDF (540.1 KB)
pp. 70-82

The problem we face in this chapter does not arise from a comparison of hunting and angling to non-lethal competing activities like gardening or wildlife photography, but rather from apparent ethical contrasts within and between various kinds of hunting and fishing. It is common for critics of field sports to contrast subsistence, sport, and commercial hunting and fishing, ...

read more

Chapter Nine: A Code for Field Sports

pdf iconDownload PDF (545.5 KB)
pp. 82-95

Participants in field sports are characterized by their quest for excellences or virtues in the service of the biotic good. They also must recognize the good of acquiring the animal as essential. To what extent are these goals reflected in codes of ethics and conduct frequently cited and criticized? ...

read more

Part Four: Implications for the Future of Field Sports

pdf iconDownload PDF (479.0 KB)
pp. 96-97

Though I’ve outlined a modified code for field sports and answered some important objections, there are several remaining issues of sufficient importance to warrant specific attention. In this part, I cover the future of field sports and what sportsmen must do to maintain a publicly and ethically acceptable basis for their activities. ...

read more

Chapter Ten: Field Sports and Civic Virtue

pdf iconDownload PDF (522.8 KB)
pp. 98-106

As sportsmen develop environmental virtues with regard to conservation of the biotic good, they also become aware of threats to field sports. Threats presented by animal rights advocates are ethically based, often focusing on the potential cruelty of field sports. The view I present in the previous chapters is my answer to these critiques: ...

read more

Chapter Eleven: Money and Politics

pdf iconDownload PDF (514.6 KB)
pp. 106-113

Jim Posewitz, in his excellent little book Inherit the Hunt, concludes with a chapter titled “Finding Our Way in the Twenty-First Century.” There he identifies many present and future dangers facing field sports. One clear danger is the “commerce of gadgets, hunting machinery, catered experiences, and fees for access to what is ours.”1 ...

read more

Chapter Twelve: Sportsman Education

pdf iconDownload PDF (507.3 KB)
pp. 113-119

One example of the power of political special interests in field sports comes from a recent attempt in New York State to pass a bill exempting members of the military from taking the hunter-education class required to obtain a hunting license, an exemption already in place in several other states. ...

read more

Chapter Thirteen: Attitudes about Game and Wildlife

pdf iconDownload PDF (529.4 KB)
pp. 119-129

Hunting and fishing are arts of acquisition. The material goods acquired are derived from the bodies of animals: birds, mammals, fish, and others. In addition to these material goods, participants in field sports seek the good of acquiring environmental virtue. Coinciding with the evolution of the sportsman thesis, ...

read more

Chapter Fourteen: Conflicting Visions of Outdoor Recreation

pdf iconDownload PDF (513.7 KB)
pp. 129-136

Increasingly, field sports find themselves competing with other forms of outdoor recreation. Should streams be devoted to fishing or kayaking or both? Should wildlife management areas be open for both hunting and birding? Should motor enthusiasts be allowed to access hunting areas on all-terrain vehicles?1 ...

read more

Chapter Fifteen: The Sportsman Myth

pdf iconDownload PDF (472.0 KB)
pp. 136-137

I began this work expressing some skepticism about the plausibility of the sportsman thesis, that grand old belief that field sports generate virtue. How can activities generate virtue? Which virtues are generated? Since it seems only some people are successfully inoculated by virtue, how are the failures explained? ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (522.6 KB)
pp. 138-149


pdf iconDownload PDF (594.0 KB)
pp. 150-168


pdf iconDownload PDF (491.0 KB)
pp. 169-176

E-ISBN-13: 9780870717154
E-ISBN-10: 0870717154
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870717147
Print-ISBN-10: 0870717146

Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Violence -- Philosophy.
  • Fishing -- Philosophy.
  • Hunting -- Moral and ethical aspects.
  • Fishing -- Moral and ethical aspects.
  • Environmental ethics.
  • Nature conservation -- Philosophy.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access