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Offending Against Nature

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Some environmental views characterise the human abuse of nature as an offence against nature itself. What conception of nature would best fit that characterisation? To focus upon such a conception, aesthetic offences against nature are examined and distinguished at the outset from moral offences. Aesthetic offences are divided into those internal to our cultural outlook and external to it. The external outlook, conceiving nature as a thing wholly apart from us, is shown to be necessary to any view of nature being offended against. Central to the external outlook is a conception of nature as the victim of offence without ever being itself an offending agent. Best fitting this is the notion of nature as primordially innocent. Given this metaphorical extension, the awkward consequence arises that any human use of nature constitutes thereby an abuse of it from the external standpoint.

Keywords: culture; environmental ethics; natural aesthetics; nature

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3197/096327198129341500

Publication date: May 1, 1998

More about this publication?
  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has an impact factor (2011) of 1.467.
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