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Environmental Values

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Environmental Values

Contemporary Environmental Aesthetics and the Requirements of Environmentalism

Allen Carlson

Environmental Values 19 (2010): 289-314. doi: 10.3197/096327110X519844


Since aesthetic experience is vital for the protection of nature, I address the relationship between environmental aesthetics and environmentalism. I first review two traditional positions, the picturesque approach and formalism. Some environmentalists fault the modes of aesthetic appreciation associated with these views, charging they are anthropocentric, scenery-obsessed, superficial, subjective, and/or morally vacuous. In light of these apparent failings of traditional aesthetics of nature, I suggest five requirements of environmentalism: that aesthetic appreciation of nature should be acentric, environment-focused, serious, objective and morally engaged. I then examine two contemporary positions concerning appropriate aesthetic appreciation of nature, the aesthetics of engagement and scientific cognitivism, assessing each in terms of the requirements of environmentalism.


Aesthetic experience of nature, picturesque, formalism, aesthetics of engagement, scientific cognitivism

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

Landscape and the Metaphysical Imagination. Ronald W. Hepburn

The Aesthetics of Sky and Space. Ronald W. Hepburn

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles

Editorial: Ronald Hepburn and the humanising of Environmental Aesthetics. Isis Brook

Aesthetic Value, Ethics and Climate Change. Emily Brady

Are Poplar Plantations Really Beautiful? On Allen Carlson's Aesthetics of Agricultural Landscapes and Environmentalism. Fernando Arribas Herguedas

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