The Interaction of Ethics and Aesthetics in Environmental Art


This article advances and defends three claims: that the proper ethical criticism of environmental art requires a production-oriented approach-an approach that appraises the ethical merits or flaws of the work in terms of how the artwork is created as well as the consequences of its creation; that, depending on contextual factors, ethical flaws in environmental artworks may, but do not necessarily, constitute aesthetic flaws in those works; that, because environmental artworks appropriate part of the environment as an aspect of their identity, an aesthetic flaw in an environmental artwork necessarily also creates aesthetic disvalue in the environment-disvalue that exists in virtue of the creation of the artwork. I conclude with one further, more speculative claim, which deserves further investigation: the aesthetic flaws of an environmental artwork, which result in aesthetic flaws in the natural environment itself, are always ethical flaws of the artwork. This seems to make environmental art distinctive; in the case of non-environmental art, aesthetic flaws do not necessarily constitute ethical flaws.

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Author's Profile

Ted Nannicelli
University of Queensland

References found in this work

Art, Emotion and Ethics.Berys Gaut - 2008 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 66 (2):199-201.
Moderate Moralism.Noël Carroll - 1996 - British Journal of Aesthetics 36 (3):223-238.
Autonomism Reconsidered.James Harold - 2011 - British Journal of Aesthetics 51 (2):137-147.

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Citations of this work

Environmental Aesthetics.Allen Carlson - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Ethical Flaws in Artworks: An Argument for Contextual Conjunctivism.Tomas Koblizek - forthcoming - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.
On the Aesthetic Appreciation of Damaged Environments.María José Alcaraz León - forthcoming - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.

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