The Leaderly and the Ethical

As has become patently obvious over the course of the last two chapters, ecocen-trism involves strongly ethical, normative dimensions (i.e., maximal allowing and minimal intervention; demographic stabilization; etc.). Now, the proposition that eco-centered leading is ethical does not contradict the proposition advanced in my book, Following Reason, that leadership “as such” is ethically “neutral” (2019: 21, 39, 50). As explained in the work and reiterated earlier in this book, my general definition of leadership may be used to determine whether leading takes place (by ascertaining whether sufficient situational change or maintenance is attempted) rather than also seeking to evaluate whether ethi-cal/unethical leading occurs. As articulated in Following Reason, the question of whether leading may or may not be ethical is a “second-order” issue. We emphasize that the expression “second-order” does not in any way imply that the basic question of whether leading occurs is “more significant” than the question of whether ethical or unethical leading occurs; the phrase simply refers to methodological priority: systematic leadership research first needs to ascertain whether acts are leaderly before assessing whether they’re ethical.

So when investigations of leadership advance beyond the general question and begin to explore the nature and actions of various kinds of leading, the ethical question enters the fray. How so? For instance, an assumption in Following Reason that is not always explicated or defended in any sustained way is that rational leadership is (more) ethical while anti-rational leadership is (more) unethical. The assumption is not heavily defended because I note that the question of the ethical is indeed a deeply complex and complicated one (2019: 7), though I think that the whole of Following Reason acts as a kind of implicit running argument for the ethicality of rational leading over the unethicality of anti-rational leading. Finally, the book assumes that its readers are already drawn to rationality at least to some degree, so it follows that the readership itself is likely to favor rational leading over anti-rational leading; in other words, Following Reason generally “preaches to the converted” - and to potential converts (2019: 7). (This is not to dogmatically exclude the possibility that skeptics might be swayed by the work.)

Given that this monograph explores a specific environmental mode of leading, it’s driven by the same kind of presupposition: that ecocentric leadership is profoundly ethical while anthropocentric leadership is devastatingly unethical. One may rightly wonder whether I’ve devoted sufficient time to explicating and defending the presupposition - hence, in a sense, it remains a presupposition. But if the presupposition has been insufficiently augmented, that is because its augmentation remains secondary to the study’s principle task, which is an elementary description of Earth-centered leading. Furthermore, and as I’ve previously noted, given the nature, extent, and disastrous effects of anti-environmental attitudes, practices, and leading - culminating today in the multipronged eco-crisis - one questions whether a sustained argument in favor of ecocentrism and Earth-centered leadership is absolutely necessary, especially when others have thoroughly documented the deteriorating state of the world (e.g., Meadows and others 1972; ICIDI 1980; WCED 1987; IAP 1994; UNEA 2019). So while I don’t justify the privileging of environmental leadership in any sustained way, my hope is that readers will deem it to be a reasonable and empirically obvious one. And like Following Reason, we could also propose that the whole monograph acts as a kind of argument for eco-leadership.

On Our Way to Situating the Theory

In the present chapter, I sought to describe five key ecocentric expressions. As explained earlier, situations are constituted or marked by expressions. Hence, if a given situation is pervaded/dominated by either a homocentric or Earthcentered expression, then the situation is more likely to be characterized as either homocentric or ecocentric. So the task for eco-centered leading is to introduce measures that either maintain any/all of the five key ecocentric expressions within situations or replace their “corresponding” antithetical anthropocentric expressions with the ecocentric ones, so that these situations become (more) eco-centered. Some of the measures identified and discussed earlier included a mass environmental re-education program, a population stabilization policy, an economy based on the production of eco-friendly commodities, and so on. I have also briefly addressed other related questions (such as the suspension of the question of the politics of ecocentric leadership). We’re now well-placed to attempt the remaining tasks of the study: reviewing some of the most important works in ELS, and comparing and contrasting them with my ecocentric model.

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