The term bioethics describes the ethics of medical and biological research. Environmental ethics focuses on the relationships between humans and non-human components of the environment.

I'd like to know if there's a term for the esthetic appreciation of Nature. The word bioesthetics has apparently been co-opted by dentists. Then again, what I'm talking about is actually bigger than biology.

Think about an environment composed of countless species of plants, animals and micro-organisms that have evolved over thousands and millions of years, many of them developing complex relationships with other species, along with the diverse minerals, chemicals, water bodies and climatic factors that make up the abiotic factor.

If you chop down the trees, poison the waters and pave everything, it's gone forever. Obviously, we've lost something of practical (ecological) value.

But many people also mourn the loss of something that's aesthetic in a similar sense to a book, an opera or a carefully crafted clock.

Is there a term for environmental esthetics (other than "environmental esthetics," which doesn't appear to be too popular)? Or is there a discipline or paradigm that focuses on environmental esthetics?

In other words, if you wanted to do some research on environmental esthetics, from a philosophical point of view, what key words would you search for?


The term to search for may be "environmental aesthetics". That is what brought Allen Carlson's article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy to my attention.

Here is how Carlson describes the concept in the introduction:

Environmental aesthetics is a relatively new sub-field of philosophical aesthetics. It arose within analytic aesthetics in the last third of the twentieth century. Prior to its emergence, aesthetics within the analytic tradition was largely concerned with philosophy of art. Environmental aesthetics originated as a reaction to this emphasis, pursuing instead the investigation of the aesthetic appreciation of natural environments.

There is also a large bibliography at the end suggesting that this is not the only article relevant to the topic.


Carlson, Allen, "Environmental Aesthetics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2016/entries/environmental-aesthetics/.

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Another term you may want to explore is "deep ecology". Here are some links: http://environment-ecology.com/deep-ecology/63-deep-ecology.html https://www.climate-change-guide.com/deep-ecology-definition.html https://www.uwosh.edu/facstaff/barnhill/ES-243/deep-ecology

The concept also jettisons the human-utility justifications for environmentalism, but does so not due to aesthetics, or animal rights, or animal welfare -- but by changing the moral focus from individuals to ecosystems, and ultimately the biosphere.

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