Environmental Aesthetics and Public Environmental Philosophy

Ethics, Policy and Environment 14 (2):175 - 191 (2011)
Abstract
We argue that environmental aesthetics, and specifically the concept of aesthetic integrity, should play a central role in a public environmental philosophy designed to communicate about environmental problems in an effective manner. After developing the concept of the ?aesthetic integrity? of the environment, we appeal to empirical research to show that it contributes significantly to people?s sense of place, which is, in turn, central to their well-being and motivational state. As a result, appealing to aesthetic integrity in policy contexts is both strategically and morally advisable. To provide a concrete illustration of the ways in which such appeals can play a role in policy making, we examine a specific case study in which attention to aesthetic integrity contributed to blocking a proposed development. The case yields at least four lessons: (1) aesthetic integrity can be a practically effective framing device; (2) local deliberative settings are particularly conducive for addressing it; (3) it can serve as an umbrella under which multiple other issues can be brought to the fore; and (4) judgments about aesthetic integrity need not be entirely objective in order for them to play a productive role in the policy sphere
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