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Environmental Values

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Environmental Values

Offending Against Nature

Stan Godlovitch

Environmental Values 7(1998): 131-150. doi: 10.3197/096327198129341500

Some environmental views characterise the human abuse of nature as an offence against nature itself. What conception of nature would best fit that characterisation? To focus upon such a conception, aesthetic offences against nature are examined and distinguished at the outset from moral offences. Aesthetic offences are divided into those internal to our cultural outlook and external to it. The external outlook, conceiving nature as a thing wholly apart from us, is shown to be necessary to any view of nature being offended against. Central to the external outlook is a conception of nature as the victim of offence without ever being itself an offending agent. Best fitting this is the notion of nature as primordially innocent. Given this metaphorical extension, the awkward consequence arises that any human use of nature constitutes thereby an abuse of it from the external standpoint.

KEYWORDS: environmental ethics, natural aesthetics, nature, culture

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