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Aesthetics in Practice: Valuing the Natural World

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Aesthetic value, often viewed as subjective and even trivial compared to other environmental values, is commonly given low priority in policy debates. In this paper I argue that the seriousness and importance of aesthetic value cannot be denied when we recognise the ways that aesthetic experience is already embedded in a range of human practices. The first area of human practice considered involves the complex relationship between aesthetic experience and the development of an ethical attitude towards the environment. I then discuss how aesthetics has played a role in scientific study and the use of evaluative aesthetic concepts in science, such as variety and diversity. The final section shows the connection between the beneficial effects of aesthetic engagement with nature and the restorative value of nature for human well-being.
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Keywords: aesthetic experience; aesthetic value; ethics; nature; well-being

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-08-01

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  • 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 a Journal Impact Factor (2016) of 1.279.
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