A Surprise visit from The Father of Environmental Ethics – Dr. Holmes Rolston III

A Surprise visit from The Father of Environmental Ethics – Dr. Holmes Rolston III

At a screening of The Unruly Mystic: John Muir in Ft. Collins, Dr. Holmes Rolston III, a retired professor, Emeritus from Colorado State University often referred to as “The Father of Environmental Ethics” was present. He turns 86 in November 2018. Dr. Rolston arrived at the screening without a ticket, unaware that the show was sold out. When film director Michael M. Conti heard about this, he kindly ran out into the parking lot and motioned for him to stay. “I’ll give you my own ticket,” he told him. Michael then escorted Holmes to his seat in the theater.

During the Q&A period afterwards, Dr. Rolston offered a beautiful comment. Paraphrased, here is what Stephen K. Hatch (author of Wilderness Mysticism) remembered about Dr. Rolston’s comment:

“When we gaze up into the sky at night, we feel a sense of awe and wonder at the vastness of the universe. But when we look back at the Earth from space, we come to realize how amazing and wonderful our own planet is, with all of its various forms of life. Among creatures, human beings are the ones who are capable of becoming aware of the greater whole; of the fact, that is, that we inhabit a PLANET. However, because of humans, we are now in a time of intense crisis ecologically. It is important for us to act now to protect the future of life on Earth. This movie does a wonderful job of fostering a sense of joy and enthusiasm about the beauty of Nature, thus enabling us to be better motivated to continue our much-needed environmental work. I thank you for this wonderful movie.”

~ Dr. Holmes Rolston III


Professor Rolston was the first major modern philosopher in the West to understand that Nature possesses value in itself, independent of any value that human beings might project onto it. He called this “intrinsic value.” His is a biocentric philosophy, although he appreciates the unique capacity humans have to perceive the planet as a whole. Rolston founded the journal “Environmental Ethics.” He is a former Presbyterian minister.   Learn more.

Holmes Rolston, III, Fifty Key Thinkers on the Environment, 2000.


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