The development and nature of environmental aesthetics -- Aesthetic appreciation and the natural environment -- The requirements for an adequate aesthetics of nature -- Aesthetic appreciation and the human environment -- Appreciation of the human environment under different conceptions -- Aesthetic appreciation and the agricultural landscape -- What is the correct way to aesthetically appreciate landscapes?
The contributors to this volume move through time and space--from prehistoric Europe to the Enlightenment, and from industrial Victorian England to Aboriginal Australia--to compare the ways in which the environment is constructed in different ways across cultures.
Mugerauer seeks to make deconstruction and hermeneutics accessible to people in the environmental disciplines, including architecture, planning, urban studies, environmental studies, and cultural geography. Mugerauer demonstrates each methodology through a case study. The first study uses the traditional approach to recover the meaning of Jung's and Wittgenstein's houses by analyzing their historical, intentional contexts. The second case study utilizes deconstruction to explore Egyptian, French neoclassical, and postmodern attempts to use pyramids to constitute a sense of lasting presence. And the third (...) case study employs hermeneutics to reveal how the American understanding of the natural landscape has evolved from religious to secular to ecological since the nineteenth century. (shrink)
According to Pigliucci and Kaplan, there is a revolution underway in how we understand fitness landscapes. Recent models suggest that a perennial problem in these landscapes—how to get from one peak across a fitness valley to another peak—is, in fact, non-existent. In this paper I assess the structure and the extent of Pigliucci and Kaplan’s proposed revolution and argue for two points. First, I provide an alternative interpretation of what underwrites this revolution, motivated by some recent work on model-based science. (...) Second, I show that the implications of this revolution need to carefully assessed depending on question being asked, for peak-shifting is not central to all evolutionary questions that fitness landscapes have been used to explore. (shrink)
: The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report issued in April 2005 shows how severely our civilisation is degrading and overstressing the natural systems that support human life and all other lives on earth. An important critical challenge, especially for the eco-humanities, is to help us understand the conceptual frameworks and systems that disappear the crucial support provided by natural systems and prevent us from seeing nature as a field of agency. This paper considers the currently popular concept of a cultural (...)landscape as an example of a concept that downplays natural agency, and discusses the epistemology of nature scepticism and nature cynicism that often accompanies its vogue in the humanities. Can some philosophical disentangling of senses of nature (often considered the most complex term in the language) allow sceptics their main points without placing them on such a strong collision course with the requirements of commonsense and survival? (shrink)
Medical scientists employ ‘quality assessment tools’ (QATs) to measure the quality of evidence from clinical studies, especially randomized controlled trials (RCTs). These tools are designed to take into account various methodological details of clinical studies, including randomization, blinding, and other features of studies deemed relevant to minimizing bias and error. There are now dozens available. The various QATs on offer differ widely from each other, and second-order empirical studies show that QATs have low inter-rater reliability and low inter-tool reliability. (...) This is an instance of a more general problem I call the underdetermination of evidential significance. Disagreements about the strength of a particular piece of evidence can be due to different—but in principle equally good—weightings of the fine-grained methodological features which constitute QATs. (shrink)
This article critically evaluates the possible impact of the Charter on the relationship between the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and national constitutional courts. While it is premature to provide a definitive assessment of the kind of collaboration that these courts will develop, it is crucial to identify a number of features of the new landscape that will influence the direction in which the relationship between the CJEU and constitutional courts will evolve. This article discusses (...) several reasons that may result in better or a higher number of judicial interactions, as well as factors that may create tension or cause problems in the relationship between the CJEU and national constitutional courts. As such, it offers a framework that may help us to understand future post-Charter judgments by these courts setting out how they conceive their engagement with their counterpart(s) on fundamental rights issues. (shrink)
In this text, I discuss the environmental education project "Legible Landscape", which aims to teach inhabitants to read their landscape and develop a closer, more engaged relationship to place. I show that the project's semiotic perspective on landscape legibility tends to hamper the understanding of the moral dimension of reading landscapes, and argue that a hermeneutical perspective is better suited to acknowledge the way that readers and texts are intimately connected.
In this essay we develop and argue for the adoption of a more comprehensive model of research ethics than is included within current conceptions of responsible conduct of research (RCR). We argue that our model, which we label the ethical dimensions of scientific research (EDSR), is a more comprehensive approach to encouraging ethically responsible scientific research compared to the currently typically adopted approach in RCR training. This essay focuses on developing a pedagogical approach that enables scientists to better understand and (...) appreciate one important component of this model, what we call intrinsic ethics . Intrinsic ethical issues arise when values and ethical assumptions are embedded within scientific findings and analytical methods. Through a close examination of a case study and its application in teaching, namely, evaluation of climate change integrated assessment models, this paper develops a method and case for including intrinsic ethics within research ethics training to provide scientists with a comprehensive understanding and appreciation of the critical role of values and ethical choices in the production of research outcomes. (shrink)
This paper proposes a framework for an ethical impact assessment which can be performed in regard to any policy, service, project or programme involving information technology. The framework is structured on the four principles posited by Beauchamp and Childress together with a separate section on privacy and data protection. The framework identifies key social values and ethical issues, provides some brief explanatory contextual information which is then followed by a set of questions aimed at the technology developer or policy-maker (...) to facilitate consideration of ethical issues, in consultation with stakeholders, which may arise in their undertaking. In addition, the framework includes a set of ethical tools and procedural practices which can be employed as part of the ethical impact assessment. Although the framework has been developed within a European context, it could be applied equally well beyond European borders. (shrink)
This paper starts by indicating the analysis of Hempel's conditions of adequacy for any relation of confirmation (Hempel, 1945) as presented in Huber (submitted). There I argue contra Carnap (1962, Section 87) that Hempel felt the need for two concepts of confirmation: one aiming at plausible theories and another aiming at informative theories. However, he also realized that these two concepts are conflicting, and he gave up the concept of confirmation aiming at informative theories. The main part of the paper (...) consists in working out the claim that one can have Hempel's cake and eat it too - in the sense that there is a logic of theory assessment that takes into account both of the two conflicting aspects of plausibility and informativeness. According to the semantics of this logic, a is an acceptable theory for evidence β if and only if a is both sufficiently plausible given β and sufficiently informative about β. This is spelt out in terms of ranking functions (Spohn, 1988) and shown to represent the syntactically specified notion of an assessment relation. The paper then compares these acceptability relations to explanatory and confirmatory consequence relations (Flach, 2000) as well as to nonmonotonic consequence relations (Kraus et al., 1990). It concludes by relating the plausibility-informativeness approach to Carnap's positive relevance account, thereby shedding new light on Carnap's analysis as well as solving another problem of confirmation theory. (shrink)
In Landscape, Natural Beauty, and the Arts, a distinguished group of scholars probes the complex structure of aesthetic responses to nature. Each of the chapters refines and expands the terms of discussion, and together they enrich the debate with insights from art history, literary criticism, geography and philosophy. To explore the interrelation between our conceptions of nature, beauty and art, the contributors consider the social construction of nature, the determination of our appreciation by artistic media, and the duality of (...) nature's determining in gardening. Showing that natural beauty is impregnated with concepts derived from the arts and from particular accounts of nature, the volume occasions questions of the distinction and relation between art and nature generally, and culminates in a set of philosophical studies of the role of scientific understanding, engagement, and emotion in the aesthetic appreciation of nature. (shrink)
The caliber of recent discourse regarding geneticallymodified organisms (GMOs) has suffered from a lack of consensuson terminology, from the scarcity of evidence upon which toassess risk to health and to the environment, and from valuedifferences between proponents and opponents of GMOs. Towardsaddressing these issues, we present the thesis that GM should bedefined as the forcible insertion of DNA into a host genome,irrespective of the source of the DNA, and exclusive ofconventional or mutation breeding.Some defenders of the commercial use of GMOs (...) have referred to thescientific work of GMO critics as ``junk science.'''' Such a claim isfalse and misleading, given that many papers critical of both theutility and safety of GMOs have been published in peer reviewedjournals by respected scientists. In contrast, there is a dearthof peer reviewed work to substantiate the frequently heardassertions of either safety or utility in GMOs. The polarity,which now characterizes much of the public discourse on GMOs,reflects not simply scientific disagreement, but alsodisagreement in underlying value assumptions. Value differencesstrongly affect the assessment of both benefit and harm fromGMOs. (shrink)
The positioning of theory in relation to educational practice has provoked much recent debate, with some arguing that educational theory constrains thinking in education, while others dismiss ‘theory’ out of hand as belonging to the world of the ‘academic’, abstracted from the ‘realities’ of the classroom. This paper views theory as necessarily implicated in all practices, but argues that depending on the theories embraced, and the understanding of theory itself, education can be understood in very different ways. Resisting the separation (...) of theory from practice, the paper takes up the call to consider the entanglement of theory with practice, or how theory matters. It takes formative assessment as a particularly fertile case for this discussion. Formative assessment has been considerably developed in schooling across different national education systems. Its aspiration is for assessment to support learning, rather than only to credentialise learning. Having first emerged as a concept when behaviourism held sway, it has been considered through different theoretical lenses. Drawing upon empirical studies of classroom assessment practices, the paper draws out the different ‘mattering’ implicated in the different languages of assessment used by practitioners, raising questions about the practices this produced. The paper concludes by asking if formative assessment could become ‘educational’ in a more radical sense, if opportunities to focus on the contingencies and politics of our meaning-making were sometimes taken up more openly and dialogically with students, as opposed to formative assessment sitting in a instrumental relationship to a given curriculum. (shrink)
This papers attempts to bridge business ethics to corporate social responsibility including the social and environmental dimensions. The objective of the paper is to suggest an improvement of the most commonly used corporate environmental management tool, the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). The method includes two stages. First, more phases are added to the life-cycle of a product. Second, social criteria that measure the social performance of a product are introduced. An application of this “extended” LCA tool is given.
The discussion of the adaptive landscape in the philosophical literature appears to be divided along the following lines. On the one hand, some claim that the adaptive landscape is either “uninterpretable” or incoherent. On the other hand, some argue that the adaptive landscape has been an important heuristic, or tool in the service of explaining, as well as proposing and testing hypotheses about evolutionary change. This paper attempts to reconcile these two views.
Robert Abrams argues that new concepts of space and landscape emerged in mid-nineteenth-century American writing, marking a linguistic and interpretative limit to American expansion. Abrams supports the radical elements of antebellum writing, where writers from Hawthorne to Rebecca Harding Davis disputed the naturalizing discourses of mid-nineteenth century society. Whereas previous critics find in antebellum writing a desire to convert chaos into an affirmative, liberal agenda, Abrams contends that authors of the 1840s and 50s deconstructed more than they constructed.
Contemporary education now appears to be dominated by the continual drive for improvement measured against the assessment of what students have learned. It is our contention that a foundational relation with assessment organises contemporary education. Here we draw on a 'way of thinking' that is deconstructive in its intent. Such thinking makes clear the vicious circularity of the argument for improvement, wherein assessment valorised in discourses of improvement provides not only a rationalisation for improvement via assessment, (...) but also the very means of achieving such possibilities via targets grounded in limited specifications of assessment. On reading Heidegger's 'question concerning technology' we sought to reconsider the vicious circle of improvement in relation to Being. We claim that the means-ends driven technology of assessment, rather than being at our disposal and under our control, only serves to reveals the Real to us in accordance with the restricting principle of reason. The principle of reason, we argue, grounds 'Enframing' that ranks and orders the very beings of education as objects to produce an objective 'world as picture', rather than opening the possibility of their identity as belongings with a movement of difference. So, 'improvement' becomes normative and binding for institutions and practices on grounds of the principle of assessment, and renders agents of education as functionaries of 'Enframing'. (shrink)
This paper wishes to clarify the definitions of the central terms relating to assessment. It argues that all assessment begins with summative assessment (which is a judgement) and that formative assessment is in fact summative assessment plus feedback which is used by the learner.
In Europe, an increasing share of public subsidies for food production is being transferred towards the production of goods and environmental services. Today, farmers hesitate between the quest for technical and economic performance, which has been the paradigm of their professional activities since the 1960s, on one hand, and taking account of the environmental concerns that have been imposed since the middle of the 80s, on the other. Is it possible for farmers to continue to work according to the paradigm (...) of the producer of agri-food goods, and how do they react to the ecologization of their activities? In this paper, we will see the difficulties and sources of tension induced by landscape maintenance in the daily professional practice of the farmers. We will see that the professional identity of the farmers is profoundly brought into question by these changes (substitution of strictly “agricultural issues” by more general concerns such as “rural issues,” substitution of the farmer by the “ecologized” peasant...). The topic of landscape reveals social strains between farmers. It also raises the question of the legitimacy of farmers to define the sense of their activities by themselves. Finally we will see that environmental orientations do not systematically open up new prospects for all farmers; they sometimes contribute to increase the inequalities between farmers (financial support proportional to land property, marginalization of farmers who are less socially integrated...). (shrink)
The widespread application of technology in health care has imposed a broad range of challenges. The field of health technology assessment (HTA) is developed in order to face some of these challenges. However, this strategy has not been as successful as one could hope. One of the reasons for this is that social and ethical considerations have not been integrated in the HTA process. Nowadays however, such considerations have been included in many HTAs. Still, the conclusions and recommendations of (...) the HTAs are not followed. The reason for this may be that the methods for integrating ethics for HTA are not sufficiently developed, or that they are not adequate. This article presents a supplementary approach to the ethical inquiry in HTA. It is argued that a value analysis is crucial in order to address the ethical issues of health care technology in a fruitful way and to make viable decisions about such technology. (shrink)
This paper reviews the validity of National Curriculum assessment in England. It works with the concept of 'consequential validity' (Messick, 1989) which incorporates both conventional 'reliability' issues and the use to which any assessment is put. The review uses the eight stage 'threats to validity' model developed by Crooks, Kane and Cohen (1996). The complexity of National Curriculum assessment makes evaluation difficult. These assessments are used for a variety of purposes so that the 'consequential' aspects are compounded. (...) National Curriculum assessment also involves both Teacher Assessment and tests - each of which has strengths and limitations in relation to validity. The main finding is that the validity of National Curriculum assessment hinges on the balance between Teacher Assessment and testing. Between them they can meet Crooks et al.'s requirements of a valid assessment system. The current emphasis on the use of test results for school accountability and as a measure of national standards has undermined Teacher Assessment to a point at which the validity of the system is in question. (shrink)
While assessment is regarded as integral to enhancing the quality of teaching and learning, it is also a practice fraught with moral and ethical issues. An analysis is made of current assessment practices of teachers in South Africa which seem to straddle the domains of accountability and professional codes of conduct. In the process the position of the teacher as mediator between policies and diverse learner needs is explored in the light of moral and ethical considerations. Based on (...) the notions of ethical caring and caring about, the article suggests the infusing of principles of ubuntu in assessment practices may provide a framework to embed and strengthen morality and ethics in South African school assessment practices. (shrink)
The process of risk assessment of biotechnologies, such as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), has normative dimensions. However, the US’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seems committed to the idea that such evaluations are objective. This essay makes the case that the agency’s regulatory approach should be changed such that the public is involved in deciding any ethical or social questions that might arise during risk assessment of GMOs. It is argued that, in the US, neither aggregative nor deliberative (...) (representative) democracy ought to be used to make such determinations. Instead, participatory (deliberative) democracy should be the means by which members of the polity decide which normative concerns ought to underlie FDA’s assessment of GMOs. This paper uses a hypothetical case involving a new GM seed to make that argument. (shrink)
To make more responsible decisions regarding risk and to understand disagreements and controversies in risk assessments, it is important to know how and where values are infused into risk assessment and how they are embedded in the conclusions. In this article an attempt is made to disentangle the relationship of science and values in decision-making concerning the deliberate release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the environment. This exercise in applied philosophy of science is based on Helen Longino's contextual (...) empiricism which attempts to reconcile the objectivity of science with its social and cultural construction. Longino distinguishes different levels of research on which values apparently contextual with respect to a given research program can shape the knowledge emerging from that program. Her scheme is applied for locating and identifying the values that affect environment risk assessments of the field experiments with GMOs. The article concludes with some provisional suggestions for the decision process and the role of scientists in it. (shrink)
It has been presumed within bioethics that the benefits and risks of treatments can be assessed independently of information disclosure to patients as part of the informed consent process. Research on placebo and nocebo effects indicates that this is not true for symptomatic treatments. The benefits and risks that patients experience from symptomatic treatments can be shaped powerfully by information about these treatments provided by clinicians. In this paper we discuss the implications of placebo and nocebo research for risk–benefit (...) class='Hi'>assessment and informed consent. (shrink)
The Collegiate Learning Assessment Test (CLA) has become popular and highly recommended, praised for its reliability and validity. I argue that while the CLA may be a commendable test for measuring critical-thinking, problem-solving, and logical-reasoning skills, those who are scoring students’ answers to the test’s questions are rendering the CLA invalid.
Health technology assessment (HTA) is often biased in the sense that it neglects relevant perspectives on the technology in question. To incorporate different perspectives in HTA, we should pursue agreement about what are relevant, plausible, and feasible research questions; interactive technology assessment (iTA) might be suitable for this goal. In this way a kind of procedural ethics is established. Currently, ethics too often is focussed on the application of general principles, which leaves a lot of confusion as to (...) what really is the matter in specific cases; in an iTA clashes of values should not be approached by use of such ethics. Instead, casuistry, as a tool used within the framework of iTA, should help to articulate and clarify what is the matter, as to make room for explication and consensus building. (shrink)
More and more organisations formulate a code of conduct in order to stimulate responsible behaviour among their members. Much time and energy is usually spent fixing the content of the code but many organisations get stuck in the challenge of implementing and maintaining the code. The code then turns into nothing else than the notorious "paper in the drawer", without achieving its aims. The challenge of implementation is to utilize the dynamics which have emerged from the formulation of the code. (...) This will support a continuous process of reflection on the central values and standards contained in the code. This paper presents an assessment method, based on the EFQM model, which intends to support this implementation process. (shrink)
This article is concerned with the relationship between assessment information and teacher planning. In the UK, although planning used to be central to characterisations of formative assessment, the most recent government proclamations under the 'Assessment for Learning' banner offer no clear role for teachers making decisions about what to do based on assessment information. In this article, the reasons behind the shift will be examined. 'Contingent planning' will be proposed as a mechanism for using assessment (...) information in a planning context. (shrink)
This article draws attention to struggles inherent in discourse about the meaning of participation in a Flemish participatory technology assessment (pTA) on nanotechnologies. It explores how, at the project’s outset, key actors (e.g., nanotechnologists and pTA researchers) frame elements of the process like ‘the public’ and draw on interpretive repertoires to fit their perspective. The examples call into question normative commitments to cooperation, consensus building, and common action that conventionally guide pTA approaches. It is argued that pTA itself must (...) reflect an awareness of competing interests and perspectives inherent in the discourse associated with the meaning of ‘participation’ if it is to incite action beyond vested interests and ensure genuine mutual learning. (shrink)
A barrier to the development and refinement of ethics education in and across health professional schools is that there is not an agreed upon instrument or method for assessment in ethics education. The most widely used ethics education assessment instrument is the Defining Issues Test (DIT) I & II. This instrument is not specific to the health professions. But it has been modified for use in, and influenced the development of other instruments in, the health professions. The DIT (...) contains certain philosophical assumptions (“Kohlbergian” or “neo-Kohlbergian”) that have been criticized in recent years. It is also expensive for large institutions to use. The purpose of this article is to offer a rubric—which the authors have named the Health Professional Ethics Rubric—for the assessment of several learning outcomes related to ethics education in health science centers. This rubric is not open to the same philosophical critiques as the DIT and other such instruments. This rubric is also practical to use. This article includes the rubric being advocated, which was developed by faculty and administrators at a large academic health science center as a part of a campus-wide ethics education initiative. The process of developing the rubric is described, as well as certain limitations and plans for revision. (shrink)
Public health ethics began to emerge in the 1990s as a development within bioethics. Public health ethics education has been implemented in schools of public health in recent years, and specific professionalism and ethics competencies were included in the Master of Public Health (MPH) competency set developed nationally and adapted by individual schools of public health around the country. The University of Texas School of Public Health approved the present set of MPH competencies in 2005. After 4 years of experience, (...) we now report information measuring the extent to which Professionalism and Ethics competencies and subcompetencies are being met in the MPH degree program. To this end we have audited the MPH Professionalism and Ethics competency forms for FY2009 MPH graduates (n = 61). Eight courses, including required MPH core courses plus the practicum and culminating experience, were found to have substantial professionalism and ethics content. Further, 67.2% of graduates met eight or more of the 13 competencies and subcompetencies, but only 36.1% met all thirteen, indicating a need to identify topic areas to be added to, or enhanced in, the MPH curriculum. In addition, these findings will inform ongoing efforts to enhance ethics education in our health science center. Assessment of these competencies and subcompetencies is an essential step in strengthening ethics education at our institutions and in better preparing our graduates for a challenging future. We report our efforts here to demonstrate one way of carrying out programmatic assessment of ethics education in a school of public health. (shrink)
Decision-making is an intricate subject in neuroscience. It is often argued that laboratorial research is not capable of dealing with the necessary complexity to study the issue. Whereas philosophers in general neglect the physiological features that constitute the main aspects of thought and behaviour, I advocate that cutting-edge neuroscientific experiments can offer us a framework to explain human behaviour in its relationship with will, self-control, inhibition, emotion and reasoning. It is my contention that self-control mechanisms can modulate more basic stimuli. (...) Assuming the aforementioned standpoints, I show the physiological mechanisms underlying social assessment and decision-making. I also establish a difference between veridical and adaptive decision-making, useful to create experimental designs that can better mimic the complexity of our day-by-day decisions in more ecologically relevant laboratorial research. Moreover, I analyse some experiments in order to develop an epistemological reflection about the necessary neural mechanisms to social assessment and decision-making. (shrink)
This article describes the development and validation of a diagnostic test of German and its integration in a programme of formative assessment during a one-year initial teacher-training course. The test focuses on linguistic aspects that cause difficulty for trainee teachers of German as a foreign language and assesses implicit and explicit grammatical knowledge as well as students' confidence in this knowledge. Administration of the test to 57 German speakers in four groups (first-year undergraduates, fourth-year undergraduates, postgraduate trainees, and native (...) speakers) provided evidence of its reliability and validity. (shrink)
Criterion-referenced assessment has made promises that it is unable to keep. The idea that a criterion-referenced test may afford a clear and direct interpretation in terms of exactly which tasks an examinee can perform is unattainable for the kinds of learning promoted in complex curricula, such as the National Curriculum in England and Wales. However, examining more carefully the origin of these claims suggests that they reflect a particularly narrow view of criterion referencing, founded on some dubious assumptions. A (...) reanalysis of the notion of criterion referencing shows that there are advantages to adopting an approach that references assessment outcomes to an underlying educational construct, not only in clarifying how those outcomes should be interpreted, but also in terms of manageability. The introduction of level descriptions for National Curriculum assessment is discussed in relation to this approach. (shrink)
Technology assessment (TA) as aninstitution was introduced nearly thirty yearsago as an instrument to render possible themaking of responsible decisions concerning newtechnological options. Another recentdevelopment however has been the introductionof participatory technology assessment (pTA),mainly connected to the growing insight thatthe evaluation of technological options withrespect to their risks and benefits, is not –only – a scientific question. This paper willfocus on the questions, to what degree theideas of technology assessment and thePrecautionary Principle are connected and how.Without naming (...) it explicitly, the PrecautionaryPrinciple is put to debate in the``TA-arrangement on the cultivation oftransgenic herbicide resistant crops,''organized by the Science Centre, Berlin. Fromthe perspective of ethical clarification, someunique features concerning theconceptualization of the discoursive procedureand reconstruction of the argumentation processin order to come to results have to beanalyzed. Finally the performance and resultsof the pTA-arrangement are reflected in thelight of the Precautionary Principle andconclusions are drawn. (shrink)
I discuss the historical roots of the landscape problem and propose criteria for its successful resolution. This provides a perspective to evaluate the possibility to solve it in several of the speculative cosmological scenarios under study including eternal inflation, cosmological natural selection and cyclic cosmologies.Invited contribution for a special issue of Foundations of Physics titled Forty Years Of String Theory: Reflecting On the Foundations.
The number of online courses in business schools is growing dramatically, but little has been published about teaching business ethics courses online. This article addresses key pedagogical design, delivery, student engagement, and assessment issues that should be considered when creating a high-quality, asynchronous online business ethics course for either undergraduate or graduate business student populations. Best practices are discussed within an integrative case study approach based on the experiences of a director of online faculty development and two accomplished online (...) business ethics instructors, one teaching at a small college and the other at a research-oriented university—their successes, learning opportunities, and recommendations. (shrink)
Starting with the hypothesis that during this first decade of the 21st century a certain territorial culture has spread that implies greater awareness of landscape on the part of the authorities, the economic and social agents who exercise a degree of leadership in territorial matters and the general public, this article sets out to analyse the possibility that a new ethics of landscape is beginning to take shape. The notion of landscape as proposed by the European Convention (...) in Florence in 2000 looks at the idea of the social construction of landscape. In this new paradigm, landscape is conceived as a social product, the cultural projection of a society in a given space from a material, spiritual and symbolic standpoint. Landscape is understood to be inherently dynamic and changing. When the elements that give a particular landscape its historical and cultural continuity are suddenly removed and its sense of place is lost, we are seeing not evolution in the landscape but its destruction. And the very idea of intervention in these landscapes gives rise to the need for principles and moral values that will provide guidelines that allow landscapes, whether unique or commonplace, to evolve without being destroyed. As I see it, therefore, there is an obvious need for an ethics applicable to regional and landscape planning and management. The new ethics of landscape must be based on the ethics of responsibility, taking into account the dignity of nature, the rights of future generations to enjoy quality landscapes and the rights and duties of today's citizens whose interventions transform landscapes and with them their collective identity, their quality of life, their physical and social welfare and, in short, their happiness. (shrink)
An ecological description of a landscape transcends its geographical definition to characterize it in terms of a complex agency composed of a spatial mosaic, structured energy, information and meaning. Because the dimensions of the landscape encompasses both natural and human processes, it requires a more robust set of theories that incorporate the material components and their perceptual meaning. A biosemiotic approach defines the landscape as the sum of its organisms’ eco-fields, which are spatial configurations that carry meanings (...) connected to specific needs and related functions. In this perspective, the new postulated General Theory of Resources, offers a substantial contribution to complete the paradigmatic framework of a “private landscape” species-, individual- and function-specific. From this theory resources are considered every material (f.i. food) or immaterial elements (f.i. safety) necessary to fullfill individual needs. The habitat becomes the “private landscape” and the well-being versus the ill-being are the emergent conditions of each individual under the environmental constraints. Definitively space is the entity on which material and immaterial resources are distributed and the dimension on which individuals species are interacting by using biosemiotic mechanisms. (shrink)
Despite an impressive number of investigations and indirect evidence, the mechanisms that link patterns and processes across the landscape remain a debated point. A new definition of landscape as a semiotic interface between resources and organisms opens up a new perspective to a better understanding of such mechanisms. If the landscape is considered a source of signals converted by animal cognition into signs, it follows that spatial configurations, extension, shape and contagion are not only landscape patterns (...) but categories of identifiable signals. The eco-field hypothesis, by which cognitive templates are used to identify spatial configurations as carriers of meaning according to an active function, are combined with the sign theory to create an eco-semiotic model of landscape representation. Signs from landscape change in efficacy according to mechanisms of degradation, and metric sign categories have to be considered. An interdisciplinary coalescence is expected by using the theoretical approach in different fields of conservation and resource management and planning. (shrink)
Critics of modern agriculture decry the dominance of monocultural landscapes and look to multifunctionality as a desirable alternative that facilitates the production of public goods. In this study, we explored opportunities for multifunctional Midwestern agriculture through participatory research led by farmers, landowners, and other local actors. We suggest that agriculture typically fosters some degree of multifunctionality that arises from the divergent intentions of actors. The result is a scattered arrangement of what we term patchwork multifunctionality, a ubiquitous status quo in (...) which individuals provide public goods without coordination. In contrast, interwoven multifunctionality describes deliberate collaboration to provide public goods, especially those cases where landowners work across fence lines to weave a synergistic landscape. Using examples from two case studies, we demonstrate the spectrum of patchwork and interwoven multifunctionality that currently exists in the Corn Belt, and present underutilized opportunities for public good creation. (shrink)
This article considers the reception of British cytogeneticist C.D. Darlington's controversial 1932 book, Recent Advances in Cytology. Darlington's cytogenetic work, and the manner in which he made it relevant to evolutionary biology, marked an abrupt shift in the status and role of cytology in the life sciences. By focusing on Darlington's scientific method -- a stark departure from anti-theoretical, empirical reasoning to a theoretical and speculative approach based on deduction from genetic first principles -- the article characterises the relationships defining (...) the "disciplinary landscape" of the life sciences of the time, namely those between cytology, genetics, and evolutionary theory. (shrink)
Understanding stakeholders’ perceptions and motivations is of significant importance in relation to conservation and protected area projects. The importance of stakeholder analysis is widely recognized as a necessary means for gaining insight into the complex systemic interactions between natural processes, management policies, and local people depending on the resource. Today, community and group-based participatory inquiry approaches are widely used for this purpose. Recently, participatory approaches have been critiqued for not considering power relations and conflict internal to the community. In this (...) article, we suggest that the five-step Rapid Stakeholder and Conflict Assessment (RSCA) methodology addresses this critique. The objective of the methodology is to provide a facilitator with a comprehensive foundation on which to plan and conduct subsequent participatory project development. The RSCA integrates elements of soft systems and critical systems thinking. Qualitative research interviews and cognitive mapping of stakeholders’ mental models are used for collection of empirical material and analysis. The RSCA methodology is demonstrated in a case study concerning buffer zone management in the coastal wetlands of southern Vietnam. The case study shows that the RSCA methodology can provide an efficient way of obtaining a holistic and critical understanding of a complex resource management situation, thus potentially enhancing project performance in an instrumental as well as an ethical sense. (shrink)
Agricultural landscapes are the product of the interaction of the natural environment of an area and the practices of its farmers. In this paper, farmers’ practices are examined in order to describe and understand processes of landscape change in terraced fields on the island of Lesvos, Greece. We examine the changes of the terraced fields of each farmer and the reasons for these changes, practices concerning the maintenance of terraces and how farmers view this landscape change. The concept (...) of farming systems is used to link farmers’ practices at the farm level with changes at the landscape level. Data come from research via questionnaires to farmers in order to record their practices, to explore changes in land use and the landscape elements and the reasons behind these changes, and finally to record their opinions on the landscape change that result. Findings indicate that although farm households in the case study areas depend on farming incomes by very different degrees, they employ similar cultivation and landscape management practices. At the same time, “hobby” farm households may be more prone to abandonment of fields and negligence of landscape elements (here terraces). (shrink)
Juri Lotman distinguishes between two main types of communication. In addition to the classical I-YOU communication, he speaks about I-I communication, where both the addresser and the addressee are one and the same person. Contrary to how it sounds, autocommunication is not self-sufficient musing inside one’s self, it is remodelling oneself through a code from an entity outside oneself, be it animate or inanimate. According to Lotman, it is often the rhythmical phenomena like poetry, the rhythm of waves, etc. that (...) lend themselves for the act of autocommunication as external codes. After having received the message one is not identical to the original oneself anymore. Perceptual markers of landscape—specific rhythms, ephemera, the rhythm of human everyday activities, bodily movement—can be considered as a secondary code leading to autocommunication in the person who contemplates the landscape. Looking at the landscape—which also implies the rhythmical movement of the eyes—one uses it as a code to reconstitute oneself. A person who has confronted a landscape does not leave it as the same person. The present article poses a definition of autocommunication in landscapes and discusses the way in which other sensorial information apart from the visual—smell, movement, rhythms etc—are used culturally to reinforce autocommunication with oneself. It can be said that several institutionalised religious and cultural practices expect the subject to reconstitute him- or herself mainly through the bodily landscape experience. (shrink)
The current dominant approach on the assessment of critical thinking takes as a starting point a conception of criticality that does not commit to any substantive view or context of meaning concerning what issues are relevant to be critical about in society or in life. Nevertheless, as a detailed examination of the identification of assumptions shows, when going from the theory of critical thinking to the praxis of producing and evaluating arguments, the critical person will inevitably make such commitments (...) from particular perspectives, using particular contexts of meaning. But then she may fail to take notice of relevant ones and may end up using her critical powers in a mercenary way. It is then proposed, in the context of assessment of critical thinking, to choose and use some privileged contexts of meaning, while making them available for critical scrutiny and allowing for the possibility that new ones be brought up by those being assessed. (shrink)