Allen Carlson has argued that a proper aesthetics of nature must judge nature for ‘what it is’, and that such judgements must be informed by a scientific understanding of nature, in particular, one shaped by the science of ecology. Carlson uses these claims to support his theory of positive aesthetics. This paper argues that there are problems in this view. First, it misunderstands ecology, thereby adopting a view of the natural world that holds it to be much more integrated than (...) it is. Second, it ignores an even more fundamental science of nature, evolution. Thus, it misunderstands both ecology and nature. An alternative to this view would be an aesthetics based on an evolutionary understanding of nature, which holds that, although there are many functional wholes in nature, there is also significant conflict, disintegration, and incongruent scales. A proper aesthetics of nature must take these conflicts into account. The paper ends with a sketch of an aesthetic theory based on the science of evolution. (shrink)
A growing literature testifies to the persistence of place as an incorrigible aspect of human experience, identity, and morality. Place is a common ground for thought and action, a community of experienced particulars that avoids solipsism and universalism. It draws us into the philosophy of the ordinary, into familiarity as a form of knowledge, into the wisdom of proximity. Each of these essays offers a philosophy of place, and reminds us that such philosophies ultimately decide how we make, use, and (...) understand places, whether as accidents, instruments, or fields of care. (shrink)
The eighteenth century notion of the “picturesque” has been misunderstood by many contemporary environmental aestheticians. This has contributed both to amisunderstanding of the history of environmental aesthetics and, within the discipline, to a misunderstanding of English garden design. This essay contains a discussion of the term as it appears in environmental aesthetics literature and an examination of the history of the term as used in eighteenth-century garden design literature. This history is used to contest the account of the term as (...) used by contemporary environmental aestheticians and to develop a philosophically more interesting interpretation of it. (shrink)
This essay examines the possibility of developing a more complete evolutionary aesthetics that can be used to appraise both natural landscapes and works of landscape architects. For the purpose of this essay, an “evolutionary aesthetics” is an aesthetic theory that is closely connected to Darwin’s theory of evolution. Two types of Darwinian evolutionary aesthetics seem possible; a theory of evolved tastes, such as that developed by Dennis Dutton, and an aesthetics of evolving nature based on Carlson’s positive aesthetics. After, exploring (...) both theories, I argue that, while the two positions approach aesthetics from different directions, they support similar aesthetic judgments concerning landscapes, and this suggests that the two positions might be incorporated into a broader theory of evolutionary aesthetics. That theory is briefly outlined and applied to both natural landscapes and parks. (shrink)
According to Aristotle, both urban planning and political philosophy originated in the work of one man, Hippodamus of Miletus. If Aristotle is right, then the study of Hippodamus's work should help us understand their history as interrelated fields. Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine with any degree of precision exactly what Hippodamus's contributions were to these two fields when the two fields are studied separately. In urban planning, Hippodamus was traditionally credited with having invented the ''grid pattern'' in which straight (...) streets intersect each other at right angles to form regular city blocks. However, as grid patterned cities have been discovered that were built before Hippodamus's birth, this traditional attribution must be false. In political philosophy, Hippodamus was credited with having written the first utopian ''constitution''. However, Aristotle's account of this constitution is so brief that it is difficult to determine what philosophical position lies behind it and, as that account makes clear, several of the laws governing Hippodamus's ideal city seem contradictory. In this paper, I argue that Hippodamus did significant work in both fields but that his intentions can only be seen clearly if his philosophical and architectural works are read together. This reading not only makes clear the unique contribution that Hippodamus made to both disciplines, but it shows how they were-and perhaps how they should be-related. (shrink)
This paper outlines a normative/philosophical theory of evolutionary aesthetics, one that differs substantially from existing explanatory/psychological theories, such as Dutton’s. This evolutionary theory is based on Carlson’s scientific cognitivism, but differs in that it is based on evolutionary rather than ecological theory. After offering a short account of Carlson’s theory, I distinguish it from a normative evolutionary aesthetics. I then explore an historically important normative/philosophical theory of the aesthetics of nature that is consistent with Darwin’s theory of natural selection; namely, (...) the theory of the picturesque. Finally, after summarizing Nietzsche’s early theory of tragedy, I discuss how some of his ideas might be incorporated into an evolutionary aesthetics. (shrink)
Beginning with Ronald Hepburn’s path-breaking essay, “Contemporary Aesthetics and the Neglect of Natural Beauty,” which helped establish the modern discipline of environmental aesthetics, philosophers have provided sketches of what, after Hegel, might be called “philosophical histories of the aesthetics of nature.” These histories are remarkably similar and can easily be blended together to create a “received history” of the discipline. This history has subtly influenced work in the field. Unfortunately, it is not completely accurate and, as a result, has had (...) a misleading effect. A more accurate and expanded alternative history calls into question the received history’s view both on the origins of the field in arts-based aesthetic theories and on the nature and value of the aesthetic categories, “the picturesque” and “the sublime.” These categories were not borrowed from philosophy of art and inappropriately applied to nature, but instead were developed to appraise landscapes, which unlike natural objects could only rarely be judged beautiful since they are almost never symmetrical or ordered. (shrink)
This paper seeks to discover if urban planning has any 'internal values' which might help guide its practitioners and provide standards with which to judge their works, thereby providing for some disciplinary autonomy. After arguing that such values can best be discovered through an examination of the history of utopian urban planning, I examine one period in that history, the early Renaissance and, in particular, the work of Leon Battista Alberti. Against Susan Lang's thesis that Alberti's work was guided by (...) the fundamental value of beauty, I argue that Alberti was centrally concerned to design cities that would help their citizens develop civic virtue. Against Françoise Choay's thesis that Alberti was not a utopian, I argue that Alberti was a procedural utopian interested in advancing certain political goals. This analysis suggests that urban planning has an internal value structure which includes some specific political values. (shrink)
Wagner is thought to be one of the first Modern Architects, yet a number of writers have argued that his most famous Modern building, the “Postsparkasse,” violates the most basic principles of Modern Architecture; principles that Wagner himself helped develop. This essay develops a new interpretation of this building by placing it in the context of fin de sicle Viennese culture. This interpretation shows that the “Postsparkasse” is a Modern building, but it also shows that the common understanding of “Modern (...) Architecture” needs to be revised. It also suggests a new role for architecture in the contemporary world. (shrink)
According to Kuhn a new scientific discipline comes into existence when a group of scientists adopt a common paradigm within which to conduct research. The adoption of this paradigm senes to focus the attention of the group’s members on a common explanatory task-at-hand and leads them to adopt similar methods and aims, thus making possible the standard puzzle solving activities that allow normal science to advance rapidly. However, Kuhn argues, in pre-paradigm periods and during revolutionary phases, scientists do not engage (...) in such singleminded, puzzle-solving behavior, as the paradigm itself is put into question. Instead, during these periods, they become at least partially self-reflective in that they become interested in understanding the nature of their discipline and its relationships to other disciplines. In this paper, I argue that Philosophical Counseling is in a pre-paradigm period and is in need of a paradigm centered definition if it is to develop an identity and advance rapidly. In an Aristotelian mood, I seek this definition though an examination of the related fiends of psychotherapy and pastoral counseling. (shrink)
The subtitle of this book raises the question of what cognitive science can teach ethics. The answer, I believe, is "very little" or at least "little that ethics doesn't know already." This can be seen in the fact that, with one important exception, the authors to which Johnson most often refers are not cognitive scientists, but are instead those moral philosophers engaged in developing fundamental criticisms of "modern" or "enlightenment" morality, philosophers such as Taylor, Williams, and MacIntyre. What Johnson does (...) take from cognitive science is a set of terms, a general viewpoint, and a methodology which leads him to look at how ordinary people actually go about solving moral problems. Fortunately, this methodology yields some interesting results. (shrink)
The inaugural collection in an exciting new exchange between philosophers and geographers, this volume provides interdisciplinary approaches to the environment as space, place, and idea. Never before have philosophers and geographers approached each other's subjects in such a strong spirit of mutual understanding. The result is a concrete exploration of the human-nature relationship that embraces strong normative approaches to environmental problems.
Environmental ethics has been strongly influenced by biological ideas. This essay traces a number of these influences. Unfortunately, environmental ethicists have tended to produce moral theories on a grand scale. This tendency is criticized. It is argued that environmental ethicists should allow the ecological conception of the complexity of biological communities to influence their conception of the moral community. If this were to happen, it is argued, they would have to turn away from grand theories to 'theories of the middle (...) range' while adopting a more 'empirical' approach to moral philosophy. (shrink)
In their attempt to develop a nonanthropocentric ethic, many biocentric philosophers have been content to argue for the expansion of the moral community to include natural entities. In doing so, they have implicitly accepted the idea that the conceptions of moral duties developed by anthropocentric philosophers to describe the moral relationships that hold between humans can be directly applied to thehuman/nature relationship. To make this expansion plausible, they have had to argue that natural entities have traits that are similar to (...) the morally relevant traits of human beings, e.g., interests, the capacity to experience pleasure and pain, or “purpose.” Not only are these arguments often unconvincing, but it seems implausible that the same moral concepts and principles that govern human relationshipsalso should govern human/nonhuman relationships. Many nonanthropocentric ethics, I argue, are anthropomorphic. They anthropomorphize nature and they anthropomorphize our relationship with nature. To go beyond this relationship I recommend the development of a nonanthropomorphic biocentric ethic. Such an ethic requires us to understand better what nature is and what role nature plays in moral experience and action. In such an ethic, I argue, nature is viewed as a transcendent “thing” with a transcendental moral significance. (shrink)
By some of the top philosophers in the field of aesthetics as well as those in the architectural profession, essays in this book related architecture to other artforms such as photography. literature and painting. relates architecture to other artforms such as photography, literature and painting contains essays by some of the world's top philosophers works with a diversity of architectural concepts and issues philosophical discussions are generated by professionally designed architectural projects as well as vernacular ones extends the bounds of (...) architectural issues presently discussed by philosophers. (shrink)
Discussions of green design and sustainable architecture have become common in the architectural profession, but not in philosophy. This is unfortunate, as philosophers could make important contributions to this discussion, given that these terms rife with ambiguities and that the relationships between these ideas and the traditional Vitruvian values of architecture (beauty, structure, and utility) are unclear. In a recent article, Tom Spector addresses some of these issues to assess whether the notion of sustainability could underpin an entire design philosophy. (...) He concludes that it cannot. I argue that Spector’s argumentsare flawed. After discussing the history of green design, I connect a number of theories in the new field of environmental aesthetics to the question of architectural aesthetics to show how sustainability might inform architecture. (shrink)
In recent years there has been a revolt in moral philosophy against the idea that the purpose of moral philosophy is to produce the kind of highly abstract, universalistic, formal theories of morality that have been developed by such philosophers as Hare, Gewirth, and Rawls. Instead, it has been argued, moral philosophers should undertake more limited, contextualized, nonformal projects that focus on "local practices," moral traditions, and the role of the emotions in moral perception and action. This volume contains twelve (...) of the best essays in this new style. In addition, there is an excellent introduction and a short "Guide to Recent Literature" that, save for its near exclusive focus on work done in the analytic tradition, is nicely comprehensive. The selections are what one might expect, with a few notable exceptions. For example, it contains no essay by Isaiah Berlin, despite the editors' acknowledgment of the importance to this body of work of the idea of moral pluralism. On the other hand, it does contain MacIntyre's "Epistemological Crises, Dramatic Narratives, and the Philosophy of Science," which is only tangentially related to moral philosophy, rather than, for example, a chapter from his more directly related After Virtue. (shrink)
Communitarians have offered a number of arguments against liberalism that connect liberalism to consumerism. In this paper, I examine an argument to this effect developed by Michael Sandel. I argue that Sandel’s argument fails to undenmne liberalism, but that it does demonstrate that many contemporary liberals have placed too great an emphasis on the principle of political neutrality. I argue that liberalism, properly understood, requires both limited neutrality and an emphasis on democratic deliberation. If this is the case, then Sandel’s (...) argument misses its target. However, it does point out how contemporary liberalism needs to be reformed. By emphasizing more local democratic control over the economy, liberalism would not only become more theoretically consistent, but it would distance itself from consumerism. (shrink)
This collection consists of fourteen essays, a long introduction, and a useful bibliography. All of the essays have appeared previously--either in philosophy journals or as book chapters--over the last thirty years. They include such well-known philosophical essays as Thomas Hill's "Servility and Self-Respect," Bernard Boxill's "Self-Respect and Protest," and Rawls's early treatment of self-respect, here titled, "Self-Respect, Excellences, and Shame." In addition, there are a number of essays that come from the "virtues approach" to ethics, such as Gabriele Taylor's "Shame, (...) Integrity, and Self-Respect." Oddly enough, although they are mentioned in almost every article in this collection, none of the classic treatments of self-respect--such as those of Aristotle, Hume, and Kant--are included in the book, nor are there any extended commentaries on these classical treatments. Moreover, there are no articles from any discipline outside philosophy, although it would seem that this might be one topic in which psychological investigations would be especially helpful. These problems are alleviated to some degree by Dillon's long introduction, which attempts a sketch of the relevant conceptual terrain and relates the selections to the history of thought on this subject. (shrink)
This book presents a philosophical history of "American public philosophy," a philosophy which, according to Sandel, has gradually changed from the "civic republicanism" of the early republic to the "voluntaristic liberalism" of the modern day. These two theories differ most essentially on how they understand their shared central political value, "liberty." According to republicanism, "liberty," the capacity to engage in cooperative self-government, presupposes the widespread existence of several civic virtues, especially self-restraint and mutual respect, and, because republicanism is committed to (...) promoting this type of liberty, it must support those social policies which strengthen these virtues. Thus, republicanism is fundamentally committed to what George Will calls "soulcraft." Liberals, on the other hand, understand liberty to be the ability to choose and live by a personal conception of the good without interference from others, and, because liberalism is committed to promoting this type of liberty, it must not only support social policies designed to protect the freedom to choose, but it must also favor a state which is "neutral" between all conceptions of the good and all virtues. Thus, liberalism is fundamentally opposed to soulcraft. According to Sandel, because stable political institutions, widely supported by the population, can never be grounded on the neutral principles characteristic of liberalism, this change from republicanism to liberalism has been a change for the worse, and the country's political health requires a return to our republican roots. (shrink)
Dryzek begins this complex and interesting book by noting that the “final decade of the second millennium saw the theory of democracy take a strong deliberative turn”. In this book, he argues for a particular interpretation of deliberative democracy, defends this theory of deliberative democracy against two types of criticism, and applies it to a number of important questions.
This is a book of applied political theory; one that attempts to span the gap between political philosophy and political science. Divided into three parts, the book focuses on several questions involving the identification, design, and implementation of those political institutions that will promote democratic values and practices and encourage the development of democratic societies.