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Environmental Ethics

Volume 19, Issue 3, Fall 1997

Bryan G. Norton, Bruce Hannon
Pages 227-245

Environmental Values
A Place-Based Approach

Several recent authors have recommended that “sense of place” should become an important concept in our evaluation of environmental policies. In this paper, we explore aspects of this concept, arguing that it may provide the basis for a new, “place-based” approach to environmental values. This approach is based on an empirical hypothesis that place orientation is a feature of all people’s experience of their environment. We argue that place orientation requires, in addition to a home perspective, a sense of the space around the home place and that this dual aspect can be modeled using a “hierarchical” methodology. We propose a “triscalar,” place-oriented system for the analysis of environmental values, explore the characteristics of place-orientation through several examples, and employ these characteristics to distinguish acceptable and unacceptable aspects of the NIMBY (not-in-my-backyard) idea.

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