Seminar students:

This was a previous version of the final exam I gave in a very similar class. My current thought is for our final to be similar, except that I will use the list of topics in question 1 (a.---h.) on the final exam study question list (it has a few more topics than the below) and there likely will also be some multiple choice questions that test your knowledge of the material in study questions 2-31.

(Note: some of the names below are not relevant to our course as we did not read those thinkers.)

(Previous) Final Exam in Senior Seminar on Natural Beauty

Do #1 and choose three out of #2, #3, #4, and #5.


1.         What role should knowledge play in the aesthetic appreciation of nature? Is it necessary, sufficient, important, helpful for aesthetic appreciation of nature? Must one do anything with knowledge of nature for it to aid in the aesthetic appreciation of nature? Do false beliefs about the object of appreciation compromise the aesthetic response? Please specify what sort of knowledge is at issue and consider the distinction between “better and worse” aesthetic responses. Use examples in your discussion. (Thinkers relevant here include Carlson, Heyd, Stecker, Matthews, Brady, and Fudge.) (Part 2.) In addition, identify and specify what role other human faculties/abilities should play in the aesthetic appreciation of nature. How do these compare with knowledge in terms of their importance/centrality to the appreciation of nature. What are the problems with the use of these other faculties/abilities that their defenders have addressed. Have they been successful, in your opinion?


2.         What is “aesthetic preservationsim” (you might distinguish several versions)? What are some arguments for it (e.g., Janna Thompson, Fisher/Hettinger) and some arguments against it (e.g., Rob Loftis)? Evaluate these arguments from your own perspective. Is aesthetic preservationism a useful approach? Why or why not?


3.         What is “positive aesthetics?” Distinguish between different versions of the doctrine (e.g., Hettinger, Parsons). What are some of the arguments/considerations in favor of the doctrine (e.g., Saito, Rolston, Carlson, Parsons). What are some arguments against the doctrine (e.g., Saito, Budd). Evaluate positive aesthetics (and the views of these thinkers about it) from your own perspective. Is it true? Are certain formulations more plausible than others?


4.         Discuss the debate over objectivity in environmental aesthetics. Distinguish between various conceptions of “objectivity” (e.g., Carlson, Hepburn, Hettinger, Fisher, Thompson, Moore). Explain what a position that rejects objectivity in nature appreciation would claim instead. Describe and evaluate some arguments in favor of objectivity (e.g., Carlson, Hepburn, Hettinger, Thompson). Now describe and evaluate some arguments against objectivity (e.g., Walter, Fisher, Budd). What is your own view on the possibility (actuality?) of objectivity in environmental aesthetics and what reasons can you offer in support of it.


5.         Discuss the relationships between aesthetic appreciation, intrinsic valuing, and pleasure. Does aesthetic appreciation reduce to (or require) pleasure? Does aesthetic value reduce to (or require)pleasure? Is aesthetic appreciation of nature (or art?) intrinsic or instrumental? Is it anthropocentric? Is it anthropogenic? Do answers to some of these questions affect answers to others? (In thinking about this question, you might review Beardsley’s definition of aesthetic value, Goldman’s “The Aesthetic” and “The experiential account of aesthetic value” and O’Neill’s “The Varieties of Intrinsic Value.”)