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Gifford Pinchot, John Muir, and the Boundaries of Politics in American Thought

John M. Meyer
Polity
Vol. 30, No. 2 (Winter, 1997), pp. 267-284
DOI: 10.2307/3235219
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3235219
Page Count: 18
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Gifford Pinchot, John Muir, and the Boundaries of Politics in American Thought
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Abstract

Later interpreters have usually described Gifford Pinchot and John Muir as defining two different conceptions of nature: "conservationism" and "preservationism." While the difference between these conceptions is significant, it plays a much less central role in guiding practical proposals than is typically assumed. This article highlights the independent influence and importance of contrasting conceptions of politics, and of the appropriate division between public and private worlds, to shaping the arguments and proposals of these two early environmentalist leaders. This new understanding permits a reinterpretation of the commonalities and disagreements between Muir and Pinchot and raises a new set of questions for environmentalism and American political thought.

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