Environmental Philosophy

Volume 15, Issue 2, Fall 2018

Roger Paden
Pages 139-158

The Ethical Function of Landscape Architecture

This essay presents a theory of aesthetics for landscape gardening based on Karsten Harries’s theory of the ethical function of architecture. It begins with an attempt to understand Horace Walpole’s praise of William Kent’s contribution to the development of “the modern taste in gardening,” according to which Kent was largely responsible for achieving the progressive revolution in landscape architecture that produced the picturesque style of English landscape gardening. After examining Harries’s theory, the essay discusses whether landscape architecture can produce works of art and examines several historically-important garden styles to argue that it can. Finally, it discusses problems inherent in Modern and Postmodern landscape architecture.