Objectivity in Environmental Aesthetics and Protection of the by lanyuehua


									Objectivity in Environmental
Protection of the Environment
          Ned Hettinger
      College of Charleston
            July 2006
                                 The Worry:
Natural beauty’s subjectivity & relativity make it unsuitable
          for justifying environmental protection

Contrast John Muir’s description of a sunset:
– “The sunset [was] glorious. To the east the water was a rose
  lavender, the sky at the horizon blue, eight or ten degrees
  above a red purple. In the west gold and purple on horizontal
  bars of cloud, shading off into lilac. Islands dark purple.”
     John Muir, Journal (1899)

With his contemporary Oscar Wilde’s:
– "Nobody of any real culture . . . ever talks nowadays about the
   beauty of a sunset. Sunsets are quite old-fashioned. They
   belong to the time when Turner was the last note in art. To
   admire them is a distinct sign of provincialism of temperament.
   Upon the other hand they go on. Yesterday evening Mrs.
   Arundel insisted on my going to the window, and looking at the
   glorious sky, as she called it. Of course I had to look at it. . .
   And what was it? It was simply a very second-rate Turner, a
   Turner of a bad period, with all the painter's worst faults
   exaggerated and over- emphasized."
                Oscar Wilde The Decay of Lying: An Observation (1889)
             The Response
• Along with a pluralism of acceptable
  judgments about natural beauty come
  constraints that specify better and worse
  aesthetic responses to nature

• Such constraints provide sufficient
  objectivity for the aesthetics of nature to
  play an important role in environmental
  protection (i.e., aesthetic protectionism)
Beauty of the environment motivates
     environmental protection
     Env. beauty matters to people

                                   Sprawl’s vulgarity
Magnificence of Live Oaks draped
  in Spanish Moss sprouting
  Resurrection Fern
  How aesthetically valuable is the
         Arctic Refuge?

• “Godforsaken mosquito-infested swamp shrouded in
  frozen darkness half the year”
                        Former Interior Secretary Gail Norton
• A place of “solitude, unmatched beauty, and
                                     Jimmy Carter
      Aesthetic Protectionism
• Environmental beauty not only motivates
  but also provide significant justification
  for environmental protection
       Worries about Aesthetic
• Natural beauty is weak and trivial compared to
  utilitarian values used to protect the environment (such
  as health, recreation) or to exploit it (jobs, growth)

• Natural beauty counts for little in assessing how we
  should treat humans; why think it amounts to much in
  determining how we should treat the environment?

• Aesthetic value is anthropocentric and instrumental
  (it’s simply pleasurable experiences for humans) and the
  best defenses of nature should be intrinsic
Environmental aesthetics too
   subjective to help with
 environmental protection?

• “If aesthetic value judgments are merely personal
  and subjective, there will be no way to argue that
  everyone ought to learn to appreciate or regard
  natural beauty as worthy of preservation.”
  Janna Thompson, "Aesthetics and the Value of Nature" Environmental Ethics
           Environmental aesthetic
• Great aesthetic value lost
                                      • Better slide for MT
   – Tranquil, tree-lined roads
     punctuated by farmhouses,
     small fields, and ponds
   – Symbolic of human harmony
     with nature
• Are replaced with
   – Aggressive, strip-highway
     sprawl of auto dealers, gas
     stations, and parking lots
   – Symbolic of our society’s
     careless exploitation and
     disregard of the natural world
         Development aesthetic

• Great aesthetic value is
  gained when
   – When monotonous and
     boring, weed-infested dirt
• Are replaced with
   – Useful and well-built stores
   – That express and reward
     hard work, determination,
     and entrepreneurial
If beauty in the eye of the beholder

• How can aesthetics help us adjudicate
  between developers who like strip malls
  and environmentalists who don’t?

• W/o some objectivity, aesthetic responses
  to environment would be a poor basis for
  environmental protection.
             Carlson’s Science-Based
• The leading model for environmental
  aesthetic objectivity is Allen Carlson’s
     – He provides for objectivity by arguing

o   Aesthetic appreciation of nature must respond to
    what nature is (rather than what it is not)
o   Because science tell us what nature is
o   Aesthetic appreciation of nature must be
    informed by science (or more broadly natural
      o Just as aesthetic response to art must be
         informed by art history
o   Because science is objective, an env. aesthetics
    informed by science will also be objective
          Carlson’s monism
• Carlson frequently characterizes his view
  – The “appropriate” or “correct” or “true”
    aesthetic appreciation of nature must be
    guided by science
  – Aesthetic responses to nature uninformed by
    science or natural history are therefore
    “inappropriate,” “incorrect,” or even “false”
  Resistance to Carlson’s scientific
• Not plausible that acceptable nature
  appreciation must be guided by science
   – Rather than by other sorts of cognitive, emotional or
     imaginative responses

• Nor is it helpful to limit our assessment of
  aesthetic judgments about nature to the
  language of
   – “Correct or incorrect”
   – “True or false”
   – “Appropriate or inappropriate”
   A scientifically uniformed
aesthetic response need not be

– A child or a uneducated adult may not know that a
  glacier is a river of ice, but there is nothing incorrect,
  false, or even inappropriate about their being
  wowed by the sight of a calving glacier
    Yet informed responses are often
             better responses

• Knowledge about the nature of glaciers can
  deepen our response to them

• For example, we might begin to listen and hear
  the groaning of the ice as it scrapes down the
                                I propose a

          Constrained Pluralism
                      In Env. Aesthetics

• There are a plurality of better and worse aesthetic
  responses to environment

• Better and worse should be understood in a variety of
       • Not just correct/incorrect, true/false, appropriate/inappropriate

• Most plausible type of objectivity

• Hopefully, it provides sufficient objectivity to make
  aesthetic protectionism viable
  Constrained pluralism falls between
 extremes about objectivity/subjectivity

• Naïve monism:             • Anything-goes
  – There are uniquely        – Any aesthetic
    correct and                 response to
    appropriate aesthetic       environment is as
    responses to                good as any other
 Virtually everybody in env. aesthetics
distinguishes between better and worse
• True of thinkers with drastically divergent approaches to

   – Science-based (cognitive) theories like Allen Carlson’s

   – Emotional-arousal theorists like Noel Carroll

   – Imagination-based theorists like Emily Brady

   – A good source: Ronald Hepburn’s "Trivial and Serious in Aesthetic
     Appreciation of Nature” (1993)
    Varieties of better and worse
        aesthetic responses
•   Deep                     •   Superficial, Shallow
•   Multisensuous            •   Ocular-centric
•   Lively, active           •   Feeble, lazy, passive
                                  – Including perceptually passive
•   Discriminating           •   Undiscriminating
•   Attentive                •   Inattentive, inappropriately attentive
•   Mature                   •   Immature
•   Unbiased                 •   Biased
•   Patient, careful         •   Hasty
•   Perceptive               •   Confused
•   Thoughtful, reflective   •   Unthinking
•   Knowledgeable            •   Ignorant, distorted
•   Experienced              •   Inexperienced
    Doubts about the objectivity of
     environmental appreciation
• Nature appreciation lacks the objectivity of art
       • Art appreciation is much more objective than nature appreciation

• An initially plausible and relatively popular idea in the
  philosophy of art
   – Held by—among others:
       • Malcolm Budd
       • John Fisher
       • Kendall Walton

• I have my doubts about this claim
         Fisher’s relativism about
         environmental aesthetics
•   “A great mountain, Mt. Fuji or
    the Grand Teton, would
    probably strike us as noble and
    strong . . . , but it is perfectly
    conceivable that it might strike
    an observer from an alien
    culture as comical or agonized.
    In the case of a natural object,
    such as a mountain, such
    relativity of perception is no
    real problem, because the
    mountain itself isn’t really noble
    or comical. We can only say
    that there are different ways to
    regard the mountain. . . . There
    is no real fact of the matter
    about whether Mount Fuji is
    noble or comical. . . .”
         Fisher on art’s objectivity
•   “It is harder to swallow such
    relativism when it comes to the
    expressive properties of art. . . .
    What I am suggesting is that the
    emotional qualities that artworks
    express are not dispensable facts
    about them, although the
    emotional qualities are
    dispensable facts about natural
•   Edvard Munch’s The Scream is
    truly frightening . . . The fact that
    The Scream might strike a viewer
    from another culture as cheerful
    should not make us think that The
    Scream is a cheerful painting. . . .

     John Fisher, Reflecting on Art (1993)
                The typical argument:

•   The constraints on art appreciation provided by artistic design and social
    convention are absent in nature appreciation

     – Natural beauty lacks an artist whose design and intentions put limits on
       appropriate appreciation
         • E.g., Cubist paintings are not intended to be judged in terms of their
           representational accuracy
         • In contrast, nature does not intend you to appreciate it one way or another

     – Additionally, there are no social conventions for the appreciation of
       nature as there are for art appreciation
         • E.g., One should ignore the coughing during a concert, but one can choose
           whether or not to make the sound of a distant train part of environmental
         • E.g., Words in literature have a meaning dictated by convention, but
           whatever meaning nature has (if any) is created by the individual
         • Further, there are no nature critics in the mold of art critics
          Fisher on sounds of nature:
       "What The Hills Are Alive With--In Defense of the Sounds of Nature“ (1998)

•   “The person who listens to nature is simply free of the criteria that govern
    appreciation of music and that function to rule out many possible ways of

•   “Suppose you are sitting in a hot tub in a city in the Arizona desert listening
    to the sounds around you. Do you just listen to the Western Warblers and
    the wind in the fruit and palm trees or do you (should you) also notice the
    sounds of hot tub jets and popping bubbles making a pleasant hissing on
    the water? Do you add or ignore the sounds of ventilator fans spinning hot
    air from the attics and occasional jet planes overhead? . . . In the Tuscan
    countryside do I ignore the high pitched whining of mosquitoes? Shall I just
    focus on the loons from across the lake in Minnesota or shall I strain to hear
    others from more distant parts, and do they go together with the chattering
    of squirrels and the buzzing of flies?”

•   “Nature does not dictate an intrinsically correct way to frame its sounds in
    the way that a composer does . . . There are a large multiplicity of structures
    and relations that we might hear and all seem equally legitimate.”
 Budd generalizes this point

– “The aesthetic appreciation of nature is . . .
  endowed with a freedom denied to artistic
               Malcolm Budd, “The Aesthetics of Nature” (2000)
  Freedom and relativity in framing
        nature appreciation
• Fisher and Budd suggest that nature
  appreciation—unlike art appreciation--involves
  full framing freedom

• Unlike art, where the artist (or art category)
  frames the aesthetic object, how to frame the
  aesthetic experience of nature is up to us
     • E.g., One doesn’t look at the backside of a painting or knock
       it to see how it sounds
     • But these are perfectly permissible approaches to
       appreciating a tree
               Budd argues that
• No proper level of observation for nature
      • One can look at nature though a telescope or a microscope, or with
        one’s unaided eye

• No proper or optimum conditions for observation
      • One can observe nature when it is foggy or clear, bright or dark,
        from near or far

• Permissible to use any sense modality or mode of
      • Can choose to look, hear, touch, taste, or smell nature

• In general, we are free to frame and appreciate natural
  objects as we please
         Full framing freedom?
• Budd overstates the freedom involved

• There are constraints on framing nature

• Once one has settled on a particular
  natural object as the object of aesthetic
     • Many other framing choices are ruled out
Constraints on framing of nature
 – One should not appreciate trout in a mountain stream
   with a telescope or microscope
    • So there are better and worse levels of observation in
      particular cases

 – Aesthetically appreciating a cliff is not best done from
   an airplane six miles high or in one’s Winnebago on a
   pitch black night
    • Thus there are better and worse conditions of observation

 – Are we really free to use any sense modality in
   appreciating a mountain?
    • Taste? Touch?
                 Framing pluralism exists
•   Environmental appreciation does have greater framing freedom than art
•   Artists and art forms direct our attention to properties of the aesthetic object in a way
    nature does not

    But some pluralism need not be a problem
            for aesthetic protectionism
•   The aesthetic freedom to
     – Focuses on one loon or forty, or to listen to wind in the trees alone or along with
•   Seems irrelevant to the possibility of using environmental beauty for environmental

•   Whether I look at mountain
     – Through the fog in the early morning light
     – During the middle of the afternoon on a perfectly clear day
     – Or instead focus on the smell of the mountain’s spruce trees after the rain or
       savor the taste of its wild huckleberries
•   Does not seem a threat to aesthetic protectionism
Some pluralism might even support
    aesthetic protectionism

• When the multiplicity of acceptable ways to
  appreciation nature are virtually all aesthetically

• And when such responses are of greater
  aesthetic value than the aesthetic responses to
  degraded environments
But other framing pluralism creates
trouble for aesthetic protectionism

• Consider whether or not human intrusions
  should be included in environmental
  appreciative judgments
Snowmobiles in Yellowstone?
An appropriate and compatible
        winter use?
Race track next to Cypress Swamp
        Nature Preserve?
Helicopter/airplane flights over
        National Parks
Houses on ridge tops
Environmental vs. anti-env. framing
• Environmentalists: Engine noise degrades natural tranquility

• But if framing choice is arbitrary

• Anti-environmentalists can argue that such sounds can be framed
  out of the experience:
    – The Yellowstone skier can be asked to frame out the stench and whine
      of snowmobiles
    – The developer can ask those on the Beidler Forest owl walk to ignore
      the sounds of the nearby Friday night races
    – Hikers in the National Parks can tune out the aircraft noise
    – The developer can ask those hiking in the forest to ignore the trophy
      homes on the ridge tops

• And if there are no better or worse ways to frame these aesthetic
  experiences, why shouldn’t they?
    An overall aesthetic assessment must
     include these sounds, smells, and
•   Fitting and natural to include--and even to focus on--these sensual

•   To ignore them would be like standing in the Snake River Valley of
    Wyoming and refusing to look up to the West:
     – Not a serious attempt to aesthetically appreciate Grand Teton National Park

•   Aesthetic judgments about environments that frame out human intrusions
    similarly distort
     – A developer who insists that putting a sky scraper in the Snake River Valley will
       not detract from the aesthetic beauty of the valley and neighboring Teton Park
       because it can be easily framed out
     – Relies on a mistaken conception of how free framing choices in environmental
       appreciation can legitimately be

     – Like a symphony companion saying: “Don’t worry about that foul smell or
       machine-gun fire outside, just listen to the music”
Some framing decision are more
 natural, fitting and appropriate
           (given circumstances)

• “Certain natural expanses have natural frames or what I
  prefer to call nature closure: caves, copses, grottoes,
  clearings, arbors, valleys, etc. And other natural
  expanses, though lacking frames have features that are
  naturally salient for human organisms -- i.e., they have
  features such as moving water, bright illumination, etc.,
  that draw our attention instinctually toward them”
          – Noel Carroll, “On Being Moved by Nature” (1993)
     Consider scale-dependence of
          aesthetic response
• “The mountain that we appreciate for its majesty and stability is, on
  a different time-scale, as fluid as the ripples on the lake at its foot”
             Ronald Hepburn, “Trivial and the Serious in Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature” (1993)
    – But this should not make us think that the aesthetic qualities we enjoy in
      the mountain are not appropriately appreciable.

• Clear-cuts are a paradigm of environmental-aesthetic disvalue, but if
  one scales up, they are temporary blips in an ongoing and
  aesthetically-exciting process of forest recovery
    – But this should not lead us to agree with the forest-industry executive
      that they are not ugly because we should adopt the 200 year scale
• Aesthetic qualities can be made to vanish and
  aesthetic judgments can be undermined by
  taking a different perspective

• But this does not show that—from a particular
  perspective—any aesthetic responses is as
  good as any other

• Nor should we accept the idea that any
  perspective is as appropriate as any other
Some framing of env. appreciation
 is awkward, forced, and myopic

• Given the kind of beings we are
• Scales on which we operate
• Legitimate purposes of aesthetic appreciation

• Some ways of framing environmental
  appreciation are not acceptable
  – Including the anti-environmentalists demand
     • To frame out human intrusions
     • To appreciate nature form irrelevant or distorted scales
       Not denying some relativity in
        aesthetic value judgments

•    “One person finds the “coo coo” sounds of a flock of doves to be
    extremely harmonious and to express a soothing calm; a friend may
    find the same sound to be insistently obtrusive” (Fisher)

• Perhaps the Grand Tetons will appear puny rather than majestic to
  someone who grew up in the Himalayas or comical to one
  contemplating the meaning of the French word ‘teton’

• The sound of an approaching snow mobile may well be soothing--
  rather than obnoxious--if one is lying hypothermic in the snow
  waiting for help, or if one is the owner of a snowmobile rental
  business threatened by a proposed ban on snowmobiles in national
Clear cuts may not appear to be eyesores to
those who hunt the deer feeding off the new
  growth or to the logger who cut the trees
       Resources to constrain aesthetic
         appreciation of environment
•   I now turn from doubts about objectivity in env. appreciation to factors that
    help with such objectivity and with aesthetic protectionism

• (1) Cognitive factors

• (2) Objectivity in emotional responses to nature

• (3) Disinterestedness of aesthetic responses
 (1) Cognitive factors as constraints on
   environmental aesthetic response

• For example:
  – Sometimes there are correct and incorrect categories
    with which to appreciate natural objects and they help
    distinguish appropriate from inappropriate aesthetic
Cute woodchuck
or massive, awe
  inspiring rat?

• Which aesthetic
  qualities are
  appropriate –is it
  massive and awe-
  inspiring or is it
  cute?--depends on
  categorizing the
Spectacular full moon or obnoxious satellite dish?
•   Amazing lime green creek
         or revolting mine runoff?
Information about environment can
 improve our aesthetic responses
• For example, knowing that
  one has encountered an
  ivory billed woodpecker
  thought to be extinct until
  recently, enhances and
  deepens one’s aesthetic

• Lacking information about
  the env. can impoverish our
  aesthetic response to it
         Are Swamps Yucky?

• A negative aesthetic response to swamps based
  on a stereotyped and ignorant belief that they
  are bug-infested wastelands
• Unacceptable because the aesthetic attitude
  rests on false beliefs about swamps
    False beliefs don’t necessarily
   disqualify an aesthetic response
   – “I may be excited by the grandeur of a blue whale. I may be
     moved by its size, its force, and the amount of water it displaces,
     etc., but I may think that it is a fish. Nevertheless my being
     moved by the grandeur of the blue whale is not inappropriate.”
           – Noel Carroll, “On Being Moved By Nature” (1993)

• But this aesthetic response remains appropriate only
  because the false beliefs have no bearing on the
  aesthetic response

• When false beliefs affect an aesthetic response, as in
  some of the above cases, they do undermine that
Judgment about whether the trans-Alaska pipeline
enhances or detracts from Alaska’s beauty needs to be
informed by knowledge of the environmental and social
impacts of our society’s oil addiction
   More generally, knowledge of environmental problems
    should inform environmental aesthetic appreciation

• In a world where human dominance over nature was not so
  extensive, perhaps the sight of an 800 mile-long pipeline through
  wild lands need not be appalling
• But in today’s world--at least for those informed and properly
  appreciative of the massive human impact on the planet--the
  appropriate response to these types of human intrusions in nature
  should not be positive
   No apartheid for aesthetics
• These points depend on rejecting
  formalistic and other narrow conceptions
  of aesthetic experience

• Aesthetics is not separate from the rest of
  life, and this means that there is no strict
  separation of aesthetics, ethics, and
 Are cognitive approaches best for
     aesthetic protectionism?

• Marcia Eaton thinks they are

• She identifies numerous flawed environmental
  policies that are based on ecologically-ignorant
  appreciative responses
  – For example:
     • The sentimental Bambi-image of deer as sweet and innocent
       ignores the ecological devastation they can cause and this
       makes it hard for forest managers to convince the public of
       the need to reduce deer populations
 Forest fires have been prevented in
part because blackened forests strike
 people as ugly, with the result that
  fire-adapted species are dying out
 and many forests are tinder boxes
• “As long as people want large, green, closely mowed yards no
  matter what the climate or soil or water conditions, they will continue
  to use polluting gasoline mowers and a toxic cocktail of fertilizers,
  herbicides and pesticides.”
                Marcia Eaton, “Professional Aesthetics and Environmental Reform”

• Presumably they would not find these lawns so appealing once they
  consider their ecological consequences.
      Cognitive approach to
   environmental aesthetics is a
       double-edged sword

• Insisting that aesthetic responses to
  nature be informed by correct
  environmental knowledge can also lead to
  environmentally harmful behavior
• Some popular--but fallacious--ecological ideas
  are often environmentally beneficial

• Claims about
   – Deep interconnections in nature
   – Nature’s delicate balance
   – Are significantly overstated but quite useful for environmental

• Thus insuring that one’s aesthetic responses to nature
  are informed by scientific facts will not necessarily
  contribute to aesthetic protectionism.
       (2) Objectivity in emotional
           responses to nature
• Noel Carroll argues that objectivity is possible
  not only in a knowledge-based environmental
  aesthetic, but also for one based on emotional
• Just as it is inappropriate
   – To be amused when a dog is hit by a car
   – To dance gaily to somber music
• So it is inappropriate
   – To be bored by a thundering waterfall crashing down
     on one’s head
   – To be soothed by the hum of snowmobiles
     Better and worse emotional
      responses to environment

• Emotions are underpinned by beliefs and have
  more or less appropriate objects

• For those properly sensitive to the massive,
  harmful human impacts on the planet
  – Sounds of chainsaws will alarm
  – Belching smokestacks will disgust
  – Pollution sunsets will not strike them as appealing
   Positive emotional responses to
     environmental degradation
 – Glee at the sight of a polluted river and the
   smell of its dead fish
 – Satisfaction from seeing trophy homes on
   top of mountain ridges

• Manifests ignorance about the human impact on the planet, a
  skewed emotional constitution, or blinding self-interest
  (3) Disinterestedness and positive
 aesthetic responses to environmental
• Many argue that aesthetic appreciation requires
  – A freeing of the mind from self-interested and
    instrumental attention toward the aesthetic object

• E.g.: If we react favorably to a play because we
  stand to make a lot of money from it, this is not
  an aesthetic response to the play
  – Because it is not properly disinterested
 Positive responses to env. degradation are often
   self-interest and thus not properly aesthetic

• Clear-cuts may appear attractive to loggers or forestry
• Snowmobiles in the wilderness may sound harmonious
  to someone for whom it means more business or
  perhaps soothing to a person lying hurt and in need of

• But such responses are so infused with self-interest as
  to be disqualified from disinterested aesthetic response
• The “developer’s aesthetic” mentioned at the beginning
  may not be an aesthetic at all
• Environmental aesthetics should play an
  important role in environmental protection
• Aesthetic relativity and subjectivity do not cripple
  such a project
• Legitimate pluralism and relativity in responses
  to environmental beauty do not prevent
  distinguishing between better and worse
  aesthetic responses
• Env. aesthetics contains numerous resources for
  objectivity that allow it to play a useful role in
  environmental protection
Follow are hyperlink slides
Natural Beauty only a tie-breaker?
“An attempt to justify a ban on logging in the
Pacific Northwest’s remaining old-growth forests
solely in terms of these forests’ special beauty
would be on very shaky ground if the ban would
cause economic dislocation of thousands of
loggers and mill workers….Only in this context
(i.e., other things being equal) [do] aesthetic
considerations seem compelling.”

               Gary Varner, In Nature’s Interests (1998)
“If a doctor had to choose between giving one of
two patients a heart, she could not justify her
decision by saying that one of the patients was
more beautiful than the other . . . But if a doctor
cannot make a decision regarding who gets a
heart based on aesthetics, how can
environmentalists ask thousands of loggers to
give up their jobs and way of life on the basis of
      Rob Loftis, “Three Problems for the Aesthetic Foundations of Environmental
Ethics” (2003)
• A guide in Lewis and Clark Caverns kept introducing the
  stalagmites as Disney characters:
             “Look there’s Pinocchio’s nose”
• Such responses are superficial, irrelevant and distracting
    “Scenery Cult” as Shallow Nature
•   Well-developed literature
    criticizing the inability of many to
    appreciate unscenic nature
     – An aesthetic vice
•   Scenery cult: Appreciating only
    nature’s dramatic landscapes
     – A trip to the national park involves
       driving though the park, stopping
       at scenic viewpoints for snap
       shots and the gift shop for
       postcards of the scenery
•   A lazy appreciation interested only
    in “easy beauty,” the
    “picturesque,” and in visual
    appreciation rather than deeper,
    multi-sensuous engagement
Stereotyped responses are worse

               “Ah, look, it’s Bambi!
                Isn’t she cute?”
     Multisensuous and active
• Contrast appreciating
  a mountain lake by:
  – Gazing from the shore
  – Going for a swim
• Consider watching a
  storm through a
  window or
  appreciating the
  storm while outside
Self-indulgent responses are worse

• “Look at the rainbow placed here for me!”
Responses that distort, ignore or suppress
  important truths about the objects of
Consider the romanticized view of wolves that ignores their predatory
               John Donne on mountains

• God originally
  made the world a
  smooth sphere but
  then warped it in
  punishment for
  human sins
• His aesthetic
   – “Warts, and pock-
     holes in the face of
     the earth”
• Following are slides that are extra and cut
  from earlier versions of the presentation
   Carlson’s view that aesthetic
    appreciation of humanized
environments should focus on their
• If environmentalists are right that many
  human env. are unsustainable hence
• Then on Carlson’s account of aesthetic
  appreciation of human envs, such
  environments are aesthetically negative
                  Carlson 2
• Thus sustainable developed human
  environments or undeveloped nature (assuming
  one holds some version of positive aesthetics)
• Are to be preferred aesthetically to typical
  human environments that are not sustainable
• Note that the issue of the functionality of human
  environments has significant dimensions of
          Slides to insert
– Westvaco pollution slide
– Beach rip rap slides
– I of p house in marsh
• If items in nature (trees, countryside, wilderness)
  were of low or negative aesthetic value, both
  practice of and justification for of environmental
  protection would be far weaker
   – Show pict of trash
• Clear cuts, strip mines, toxic waste dumps,
  spewing sewage pipes, fish belly-up in the
  creeks, belching smokestacks, urban blight,
  junkyards, billboards, tacky neon strip-
  developments, and suburban sprawl.
            Objections to Carlson
• One might object to a number of features of this
    – Carlson’s cognitivism (the idea that aesthetic
      appreciation involves thought, knowledge, and
      understanding) is controversial
        • Carroll argues that uniformed emotional arousal is an
          appropriate type of aesthetic app
    – Carlson’s idea that only science can provide the
      understanding of nature needed for aesthetic
      appreciation of it is also open to challenge

• ?To use an example from the literature
• ?If I do not know that a whale is a mammal rather than a giant fish,
  my awe at its size need not be an “incorrect” or “false” aesthetic
               Scenery cult
– There is a well developed literature criticizing the idea
  that the aesthetic appreciation of nature is
  appropriately limited to the, as if seeing nature from
  ready-made viewpoints (i.e., getting out of one’s car
  only at highway pullovers) was a serious way of
  appreciating the Natural Parks or nature in general.
– Ignoring (or worse) being unable to appreciate
  “unscenic” nature is an aesthetic vice
– A lazy response interested only in “easy beauty”
– Pict of scenic versus unscenic nature?
Paul Bunyon example? Here or

• “Suppose you are sitting in a hot tub in a
  city in the Arizona desert listening to the
  sounds around you. Do you just listen to
  the Western Warblers and the wind in the
  fruit and palm trees or do you (should you)
  also notice the sounds of hot tub jets and
  popping bubbles making a pleasant
  hissing on the water? Do you add or
  ignore the sounds of ventilator fans
 Drop slide: Permissible to frame out
          human intrusions?
• For above: Brady's multi-sensuous engagement
   – Add
     • Sound of snowmobile (sound too?)
     • Teton valley with building superimposed on it?
     • Scale up to see clear-cuts from a 200 year time
     • Carroll’s Teton large scale example; not large
       scale when compared with the universe
    The idea that certain framing decision in
    environmental aesthetic appreciation are more
    natural and fitting given the human constitution
    and our legitimate purposes also allows for a
    response to Stan Godlovitch’s idea that
    traditional human aesthetic response to nature is
    sensually parochial and that the temporal and
    spacial scale dependence of our aesthetic
    response to nature are arbitrary
         Godlovitch’s relativity
• Smashing ice blocks heaved up by a river
  should be seen as no less aesthetically offensive
  than bulldozing the Navaho Sandstone Castles
  of Monument Valley, Arizona
• “If we were giants, crushing a rock monument . .
  . would be no more aesthetically offensive than
  is flattening the odd sand castle is to us now. If
  our lives were measured in seconds, then
  shattering ice blocks would count as
  momentously coarse as using Bryce Canyon as
  a landfill” (p. 18)

• Delete next two bullets?
• Much as it is inappropriate to find it humorous
  when a dog is hit by a car, so to it is
  inappropriate to positively respond to human
  intrusions into wild nature.
• Such a response is likely to manifest ignorance
  about the human impact on the planet, a skewed
  emotional constitution, or such strong self-
  interest as to blind one’s aesthetic responses (or
  to disqualify them)
 Resistance to Carlson’s scientific

• Not plausible that there is only one
  appropriate, correct, or true way to
  appreciate nature or natural objects

• Nor is it plausible that if knowledge of
  natural history fails to inform an env.
  aesthetic response, it becomes
  inappropriate, incorrect or false
         Avoid the false dilemma
• One true or correct or               • Any appreciation of
  appropriate way to                     nature is as good as any
  appreciate nature                      other

• There are a plurality of better and worse ways to appreciate nature

• Is such a pluralistic objectivity sufficient for aesthetic protectionism?
• Seems repetitive?
• Yes so I removed to end.
 Intentional design adds complexity
     that may increase pluralism
• Removed slide:
• Design can constrain appreciative responses but also:
    – Open avenues for interpretation
    – And enable additional types of appreciative responses
• Consider a sand sculpture produced by an artist and the same
  pattern produced by nature
    – May be a greater diversity in appropriate responses to the former than
      to the latter
    – The sand sculpture has multiple meanings that the natural pattern of
      sand would not have
    – Debates about what the artist was communicating and the relations of
      this sand sculpture to other sculptures are examples of complicating
• Art appreciation can be more complex and thus allow for a greater
  plurality and flexibility in the appropriate types of aesthetic response
 Glenn Parsons thinks not:
“Freedom and Objectivity in the Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature” (2006) f

“Smell, touch and taste require close proximity and
 mountains are generally not the sort of things we ca
                    feel or taste”
         So far I have argued:
• It is not clear that aesthetic of nature is less
  objective than aesthetic of art
• There are a plurality of better and worse
  aesthetic response to nature, even though there
  is not one best or appropriate type of response
  – Some relativity in aesthetic value judgments must be
• That framing freedom in nature appreciation has
  limits and that there are more or less appropriate
  ways to frame environmental appreciation
              Types of objectivity
• What objectivity is and is not
• Brady: Not true, but reasonable, justifiable, communicable
• Parson: Correct, true
       • Add Parson paper quotes?
   – Carlson: true also?
• Objectivity: Letting object be the guide rather than the subject
   – Berleant: Subject's emotions, beliefs, and memories determine aes
     response/judgment as much as does the env. appreciated.
       • Subject could be guide if we all agreed and this allow for aes
   – Saito’s appreciating nature on its own terms
       • Letting nature speak for itself; tell its own story
   – Carlson: guided by the object
   – Kind of objectivity I want is kind where we get judgments that
     these aes responses are more rational and appropriate than
       • Epistemic determinism or at least constraint
   – is constrained by While there are a plurality of acceptable
     aesthetic responses
   – Develop a position in between monistic objectivism and
     anything-goes subjectivism that allows for a plurality of better
     and worse aesthetic responses
• Arguments for subjectivity (and responses)
       • Lack of artistic design constraints
           – Or audience conventions?
       • Framing freedom
• Constraints on the plurality of aesthetic appreciations of
       • Cognitive
           – Limitations for env. protectionism
       • Objectivity of affective response
       • Disinterestedness
• “Given the centrality of the duties of beneficence and
  nonmaleficence to our shared conceptions of morality, it
  is difficult to see how these prima facie duties [to protect
  natural beauty] could override duties generated by the
  existence of interests.”
• For example, an attempt to justify a ban on logging in the
  Pacific Northwest’s remaining old-growth forests solely in
  terms of these forests’ special beauty would be on very
  shaky ground if the ban would cause economic
  dislocation of thousands of loggers and mill
  workers….Only in this context (i.e., other things being
  equal) that aesthetic considerations seem compelling.”
                            Gary Varner, In Nature’s Interests
           Lots of agreement
• Like in ethics, in aes disagreement is often
• Would we take seriously the assertion that
  grand canyon or Sistine chapel was ugly
  – Eukletna lake slide
• But for the disa that exists, see below (why
  argue if like taste?)
• Also, Brady’s reasons to explain this
  disagreement and how it could be resolved
   Brady: Why argue about aes
 judgments if mere taste, personal
• Contrast with mere personal pref
  examples, like taste of coffee or favorite
    Donne mountain pock marks;
• Use with cubists works in 1913 judged to
  be crude and aes worthless grounded on
  standards for representational paintings.
• Incoherent, incomplete, crude, messy
  Relativism undermine worth/value
  of nature appreciation (compared
• Superficiality problem
                         to art)
•   And this matters for aes protectionism, because if this is not serious nor
    worthy, it can’t provide much value for protecting the env.
     – Dif from point that it can’t guide env. Decisions because all is relative and no
       better/worse answer
•   But I’m now wondering what lack of worth/seriousness has to do with
    relativism? Need to make this case
•   Is nature app “possess a seriousness and worth approaching art app?”
    Parsons 28
•   Donne: Second rate Turner quote: Nature’s aes value is weak/trivial
•   Going to a art gallery or the concert is a more serious, deeper, more
    valuable aes experience than is going for a walk in the woods.
•   Nature app is just not as worthwhile as art appreciation
•   What to make critical discourse possible
•   Need to have “responsible criticism and discourse” fisher
•   But Fisher and Budd turn lack of objectivity in nature app into a virtue; gives
    us more freedom and responsibility, creativity, richer

To top