Objectivity in environmental aesthetics and environmental protection

Hettinger, N., 2005, Objectivity in environmental aesthetics and environmental protection, Philosophy Department, College of Charleston

  • Author : Hettinger, N.
  • Year : 2005
  • Pages : 15
  • Publisher : Philosophy Department, College of Charleston
  • Outline in English : OUTLINE (from the introduction): The beauty of the environment is a significant motive for environmental protection. Whether it be the preservation of wilderness areas, the protection of the rural countryside from sprawl, or opposition to cutting a neighborhood tree, concern for environmental beauty figures prominently. The author will call such aesthetic defenses of the environment aesthetic protectionism. The author believes that aesthetic considerations can play a significant role in the justification for environmental protection. A large part of why environmental degradation is so serious a problem is because it involves the destruction of things of substantial aesthetic value. If wilderness, the rural country side, and neighborhood trees were of low aesthetic value (or of negative aesthetic value), both the practice of--andjustification for--environmental protection would be seriously weakened. There are many reasons to resist making aeshetics central to a defense of the environment. Perhaps the most important one is the common assumption that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that therefore aesthetic responses are significantly relative. If judgments of environmental beauty lack objective grounding, they would seem to be a poor basis for justifying environmental protection. One of the first to note this problem, put it this way: “If aesthetic value judgments are merely personal and subjective there will be no way to argue that everyone ought to learn to appreciate or regard natural beauty as worthy of preservation.” Even if one rejects the view that aesthetic judgments in general are subjective and relative, one might claim that they are in the case of judgments about environmental beauty. A view common in the philosophy of art is that although there is substantial objectivity in art, the aesthetic appreciation of nature is either thoroughly relative or much less constrained than the aesthetic appreciation of art.
  • Comments/Notes : KEYWORDS: nature, environment, aesthetics. http://www.environmentalphilosophy.org/Hettinger.pdf