When Philosophers Want to Have it All: Comments on Ron Moore's Syncretic Theory of Natural Beauty

Ethics, Place and Environment 12 (3):343-349 (2009)
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Ronald Moore's new book Natural Beauty: A Theory of Aesthetics Beyond the Arts seeks to offer up an account of beauty in nature rather than the beauty of nature. Moore claims his is a syncretic theory. That is, it combines the best parts of competing theories into a single comprehensive account of, in this case, our judgments of natural beauty. The syncretic impulse is a common one in philosophy. Seeing many theories, each with some strong points yet none successful overall, a natural solution is to simply glom them all together. But does this work? Are we entitled to pick and choose in this manner, taking what we like but leaving behind the preconceptions to which each theory was moored? And is the resulting supertheory consistent and coherent? I will use Moore's book as a test case for some of these theoretical questions. I identify some 'syncretic sites' in Moore's theory to see whether his method passes muster



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Stephanie Ross
University of Missouri, St. Louis

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