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Philosophy in the Contemporary World

Volume 10, Issue 2, Fall/Winter 2003

J. Robert Loftis
Pages 41-50
DOI: 10.5840/pcw200310218

Three Problems for the Aesthetic Foundations of Environmental Ethics

This essay takes a critical look at aesthetics as the basis for nature preservation, presenting three reasons why we should not rely on aesthetic foundations to justify the environmentalist program. First, a comparison to other kinds of aesthetic value shows that the aesthetic value of nature can provide weak reasons foraction atbest. Second, not everything environmentalists want to protect has positive aesthetic qualities. Attempts have been made to get around this problem by developing a reformist attitude towards natural aesthetics. I argue that these approaches fail. Third, development can be as aesthetically positive as nature. If it is simply beauty we are looking for, why can't the beauty of a wellconstructed dam or a magnificent skyscraper suffice?