Environmental Philosophy

Volume 2, Issue 2, Fall 2005

Robert Kirkman
Pages 38-52

Ethics and Scale in the Built Environment

On the way to a phenomenology of the moral space within which people make decisions about the built environments they inhabit, I take up Bryan Norton’s proposal for a non-linear, multi-scalar approach to environmental ethics. Inspired by a recent development in ecology, hierarchy theory, Norton’s key insight is that ethical concerns play themselves out across distinct spatio-temporal scales. I adapt this insight to the context of the built environment by way of a phenomenology of constraint as a scaling criterion, then go on to specify how ethical concerns might be mapped onto the complex scalar relationships thus revealed.

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