Re-Envisioning Nature: The Role of Aesthetics in Environmental Ethics

Document Type

Article - Merrimack Access Only

Publication Title

Environmental Ethics

Publication Date

Winter 2011

Abstract/ Summary

The discussion of environmental aesthetics as it relates to ethics has primarily been concerned with how to harmonize aesthetic judgments of nature’s beauty with ecological judgments of nature’s health. This discussion brings to our attention the need for new perceptual norms for the experience of nature. Hence, focusing exclusively on the question of whether a work of “environmental art” is good or bad for the ecological health of a system occludes the important role such works can play in formulating new perceptual norms and metaphors for nature. To illustrate this point, the work of sculptor Andy Goldsworthy presents us with a different perception of time that is ethically useful.