Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Philosophy

Committee Chair

Deborah Slicer

Commitee Members

Christopher Preston, William Borrie


wilderness management policy, wilderness, untrammeled, dilemma of wilderness management, environmental philosophy, environmental ethics


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Forest Management | Other Philosophy


This thesis addresses the quandary faced by wilderness managers in a time of heightening anthropogenic change, who are tasked with the conflicting goals of leaving wilderness untrammeled from management control, while simultaneously maintaining natural conditions free from human influence. I explain how this debate between conflicting management goals reflects a deeper rift between two competing philosophical paradigms of wilderness stewardship, which I term the Naturalness- paradigm and the Untrammeledness-paradigm. The Naturalness-paradigm embraces a techno-centric view of wilderness stewardship that exalts the role of managers in shaping wilderness ecosystems, whose persistence it considers to be dependent upon human provisioning. The Untrammeledness-paradigm maintains that managerial restraint is the foundational aspect of wilderness stewardship, which is inherently bound by epistemic and technological limitations.

I critique the Naturalness-paradigm for its lack of conceptual coherence, and for enabling the conversion of wildlands into artificial, domesticated landscapes. Its techno- optimistic approach is not only ineffective in preventing anthropogenic disturbances, but it instantiates a consumptive worldview that is incompatible with any viable ethos of wilderness stewardship. I proceed to offer reasons why the Untrammeledness-paradigm is the more compelling foundation of wilderness preservation. Unlike its rival, it is conceptually coherent, scientifically grounded, and acts as an effective regulatory hurdle against management actions that overtly or inadvertently domesticate wilderness areas. Most profoundly, this form of wilderness stewardship serves as a counter-practice in response to certain disquieting trends in modern techno-industrial society: the lack of self-limitation, lack of perceptiveness, and the lack of control over macro-level social processes.



© Copyright 2016 Robert A. McGlothlin