Contemporary Environmental Aesthetics and the Requirements of Environmentalism

Environmental Values 19 (3):289 - 314 (2010)
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Abstract

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

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