in Sand County Almanac to think of the land not as ancommodity but as a community, he intended to remind usnthat there were other hves than the human at stake. Just asnour predecessors were slowly brought to think that “natives”nwere not only more or less valuable resources, but fellownmembers of the community of rational decision-makers, sonthe conservationist who is moved by Leopold’s rhetoricnshould acknowledge that the health of our fellow creaturesnis itself a good reason for not polluting the land, and notngrabbing for our own purposes all that we imaginably could.nThose who look to the land for recreation or scientificnresearch may in the end be as dangerous to our fellowncreatures as the most shortsighted of agriculturalists. “Wenshould not burden the wilderness with this egocentricnhuman purpose. The wilderness,” explained Fraser Darlingnin Wilderness and Plenty, “does not exist for our re-creationnor delectation.” My thesis is that, just as we should respectnthe life and autonomy of “natives,” irrespective of thencommercial, scientific, or aesthetic profit we get on thendeal, so we should respect what the Koraa calls then”nations” of bird and beast. We should not just spare themnpain (so long as we can still achieve our own goals): wenshould acknowledge that their rights may prevent us fromnjustiy achieving all our goals. They feed upon the land,nupon the myriadfold terrestrial ecosystem, as we do; they arenour evolutionary relatives and like us do not know wherenthey came from nor where they are going. Many of theirndesires and feelings we can sympathize with; and even whennwe cannot, we can recognize that only parochial conceit (ofnthe kind that imperialists suffer from) will imagine that onlyn”our” concerns are really important, that only “we” can livenour lives as they should be lived.nWild things who live in the same land as we do have, R.nMabey points out in Food for Free, as much claim on thenwild products of the land as we do: as much right, and oftennvery much more need. Unless we are prepared to say thatnmere strength and cunning is a good reason for allowingnone creature “rights” that others do not have, we have nongood reason to say that “we” have a right to a squirrel’s nutsn(any more than the white men had a right to the natives’ncrops and labor). Allowing that natives and squirrels,nvariously, have rights is to say that there are moral limits tonwhat een well-meaning despots may do, even despots withngood taste.nThe serious question is: what rights are there? Rights, innmoral philosophy, are understood to form a coherentnsystem: no one has a right to do to another what that othernhas a right not to have done, although the first may havensome interest in doing what the other has an interest innresisting. What rights there are, in short, are to be found byndiscovering what all creatures might, without selfcontradiction,nbe required to do or refrain from doing. Thisnis a formula derived from the philosophy of ImmanuelnKant, who rationalized his devotion to human interests byninsisting that nonhumans could only be tools, and material,nfor human purposes, that they could not be conceived tonhave any goals of their own. Even Kant was not entirelynconsistent in this, any more than white imperialists couldnalways escape the suspicion that natives were individualsntoo. If we abandon the arbitrary line that has been drawnnaround the human species and understand that all creaturesnare members of one community, the terrestrial biosphere,nwe can ask what rules might obtain in that system.nSome authors have denied the possibility of treating thenland as a genuine community, within which moralnagents might have moral duties. It is true that not allnmembers of such a community are in any position tonrecognize the fact (any more than many human beings are);nit is also true that there are frequently irresoluble conflicts ofninterest between its members. Neither of these points seemnto me to make the community-model unusable, but it mustnbe admitted that (short of the millennium) the rights of wildnthings will not be quite as extensive as some have expectedn”human rights” to be.nThere can be no general rights to live without hurt ornharm, to be forever protected from assault or starvation:nthere can be no such right because to protect it in somencreatures would be to abuse it in others. The worm has nonright not to be killed and eaten—any more than I do. Itndoes have a right (for this right can be equally apportioned)nto live out its life under the law. The blackbird injures nonright in killing for her needs: she would do so if, somehow,nshe conspired to make it impossibly difficult for otherncreatures to live out their programs, to enjoy their momentn(metaphorically) in the sun. We are obliged to do only whatnall creatures can be conceived to be obliged to do: to takenour turn. It is not unjust (though it may be regrettable) if wenkill simply to survive as the sort of creatures we cannot helpnbut be: it is unjust if we plot to cover all the world with ournmachines and art objects and artificially maintained “wildernessnareas,” without regard to the claims of otherncreatures.nThe best available land-community, the ideal that wenmay reasonably hold in view, is one that lives up to thenoccasional (though inconsistent) demand of ecologists fornvariety: a diverse and variegated landscape is one that allowsnas many creatures as possible their time in the sun. Such anland-community is not to be valued solely because it is, in ansense, more “stable,” nor because it is (to us) morenaesthetically pleasing, but for the same reason that a liberalndemocracy is valued, as allowing as many as possible to livenout their lives, not as slaves or material for another’snpurposes.nIn plotting our land-use, accordingly, we should takencare not to claim too much. In making this suggestion, Instand within the Judeo-Christian tradition—despite thennnAUGUST 1985121n