Glenn Parsons

Should we Save Nature’s Hidden Gems?



2.      Aesthetic Preservationism (AP) = Preserve nature because of its aesthetic value

3.      Problem paper considers: When natural area inaccessible/fragile so no one (or only a few can aes app it), AP has difficulty

4.      Question:

         a.      This makes it sound like the aes value of natural area somehow depends on the # of people who do?/can? aes app it?

                   i.       So that its aes value would be enhanced with population growth

5.      Why AP so attractive?

         a.      We care about aes value in general and get upset about destroying a beautiful natural area (drilling in Arctic refuge) like we would burning Da Vinci’s canvases for firewood

         b.      Aes value presents itself to our senses–so strong rhetorical impact

                   i.       So have strong impact on preservation debates, more so than talk about moral duties or charts of ecosystem services

6.      AP, preserve for aes value, not a practical human benefit

         a.      Gives us a reason for preserving nature that is not because of its value in serving “practical human interests”

         b.      Not like economic and ecological anthropocentric reasons

         c.      I’d say aes value is not anthropocentric instrumental

         d.      But anthropogenic (in part) intrinsic valuing

         e.      Glenn doesn’t use those terms

7.      Saying we should save nature (Arctic Refuge) because it serves the practical interests of non-humans is inadequate

         a.      We would not be happy to let them drill if it was shown the caribou and other animals would not be harmed.

         b.      Concerned with protecting the place itself (in addition to animals)


8.      Saying we should save natural places simply because they are natural (and this confers value on it) is problematic because much of nature seems quite bad (omnipresent suffering and death)

         a.      Note one might allow the natural pain/death is bad but still think the naturalness confers value.

9.      AP provides a “familiar and compelling human reason”for saving nature

10.    Aes value of nature not practical benefits it brings us

         a.      Nature’s aes value not arise from our manipulating or using them

         b.      But only from our looking and listening to them

                   i.       So if we don’t look or listen to them they have no aes value?

                   ii.      Clearly it must not be the actual aes app but the possible aes app that (helps) generate their value

         c.      A good reason to preserve nature when gain no practical benefit (just what preservationists want)

11.    Questions

         a.      Does he think aes value is intrinsic or instrumental?

         b.      Anthropogenic but not anthropocentric?

         c.      I think preservationists want to preserve nature for its own sake and not for ours, and Glenn’s argument suggests it must be for our sake!



13.    How to weight aes value (= AV) against practical benefits (300 jobs)

         a.      AP requires AV outweigh econ benefit

         b.      How weigh aes pleasure against food for families?

         c.      Assuming AV = aes pleasure!

14.    Aes value subjective, so not useful in convincing people to preserve nature over development

         a.      Stevens: ANWR ugly

         b.      Parsons: Wildly idiosyncratic (like view Shakespeare couldn’t write; ANWR a paradigm of beauty in our culture

         c.      “Perhaps aes value is subjective but there is still enough agreement on beauty of wilderness to make AP viable

                   i.       Says take back argues correct/more approp ways to app and some incorrect and inappropriate

15.    Agreement only about aes excellent nature so AP only preserve some parts of nature, the scenic, easy beauty;

         a.      Swamps won’t get preservedhave ugliness built into them”

         b.      Scenically challenged landscapes will not get protected

         c.      This assumes that these uniformed reactions are appropriate measures of aes value

16.    AP assumes preservation gives us an aes gain over development and it might not

         a.      Strip mines, urban sprawl, dames aes negative?

         b.      But might be aes positive: expressive of power and vitality, hard work ingenuity and vision

         c.      Burtynsky’s work: beautiful photos of industrial wastelands

17.    AP might have us preserve nature from natural changes and have us preserve beauty at expense of naturalness

         a.      Lee’s Yew Tree Tarn

         b.      Says it is an artifact, so not preserving natural beauty; got the beauty and not the nature

         c.      It is not an artifact



19.    When natural area to preserve is so inaccessible/fragile either impossible or imprudent to visit it, as irrevocably harm or destroy it

20.    “Since no one can actually enjoy the aes value of natural area, this aes value seems to become useless as a justification for preservation

21.    Questions

         a.      Is the claim that it is useless philosophically or rhetorically in policy disputes?

         b.      Is actual enjoyment necessary for aes value? Or only possibility of aes app?

         c.      Perhaps actual enjoyment is not necessary for aes value, but necessary for using aes value for preservation? YES

22.    Are real examples: Sable Island

         a.      Also caves

23.    “Seems impossible to say “save Sable Island for its beauty” when on one outside of a handful of government approved sci will ever exp this beauty”

24.    Does fact only few people can enjoy it aes undermine logic of preserving it on aes grounds?



26.    Non-anthropogenic value solution

                   i.       This should be called non-anthropocentric

         b.      Amount of enjoyment get from nature’s aes value is irrelevant

         c.      AV of nature is independent of such enjoyment or of any effects on humans

         d.      Nature can have aes value even if unable to produce any actual aes enjoyment

                   i.       This does not seem problematic to me

                   ii.      Take a beautiful place and make up story about nuclear radiation wall around it so can’t produce any actual enjoyment

                   iii.     Still beautiful

27.    Makes idea of aes value hard to understand

28.    Most think aes value is anthropogenic

         a.      So no animals can have aes experiences?

29.    **“Value not out there in natural world, but attaches to things only in virtue of their relations to desirable human exp”

30.    Parson’s view of aes value

         a.      Related to an actual exp or possible exp

         b.      Instrumental value?

31.    Objective view of aes value

         a.      Property can measure objectively like other natural qualities?

         b.      How does aes value fit into sci picture of natural world?

32.    Thinks this makes AV “a creature of darkness”

33.    Thinks this destroys one of main rationales for aes preservationism

34.    “One of attractive things about AP is that AV–capacity to produce aes enjoyment–is familiar and easy to understand”

         a.      This does make AV a function of possible not actual aes exp


35.    Just knowing Solution

36.    AV is anthropogenic

37.    Hidden gems have value not because give us aes enjoyment

38.    But give us different satisfaction--that of just knowing that such beautiful places exist

39.    Very few get to enjoy Sable’s beauty

40.    We all can enjoy thought that it exists

41.    Critique: If does not solve HG problem but presumes one

         a.      We enjoy fact our species not been selfish and made a wise decision

                   i.       No that is not what we are enjoying; rather we are enjoying fact that a beautiful place exists

                   ii.      We’d enjoy Sable island’s continued existence even if it was the result of a fluke or selfishness

         b.      But was it wise to spare nature rather than develop

         c.      If say because it is beautiful

         d.      Response is: why is it wise to forgo real material benefits to safeguard something that will give us no aes benefit at all?

         e.      Why isn’t in an aes benefit to know the beautiful place exists?


42.    Indirect exp solution

         a.      Can aes app Sable island in our imagination

43.    Critique: Proves too much

         a.      Sable Island need not exist to aes app it in our imagination

         b.      Can aes app Tolkien’s Middle-Earth and it never existed

         c.      Need way to aes app Sable island w/o going there and which requires its continued existence

44.    Films and photography of Sable Island

45.    But is this app island itself or only reps of the island

46.    What about ongoing real time movie?

47.    Even if reps of island, it does give us some enjoyment

48.    Problem of diminishing returns: once got visual images how many more do we need?

49.    Or digital Sable-ish images not dependent on existence of sable island

50.    True that sable-ish images would provide same aes exp as actual photos of Sable Island

         a.      Causal history matters

51.    But why insist on app nature photography (of Sable island) rather than appreciating imaginary landscape?

52.    “Purely aes case for preservation has slipped away”

         a.      I don’t get this



54.    Problem above due to focusing on quantity of aes exp

         a.      Not clear loss of Sable island has affect on the total quantity of aes enjoyment

55.    Should instead focus on quality of aes exp that would be lost with loss of Sable Island

56.    If accept quality of aes exp, need to reject anything goes subjectivism and embrace at least objectivity that some responses better or more correct than others

57.    This is not objectivity that holds aes value is present in objects in way mass and shape are

58.    Color analogy to aes value

         a.      Colors are subjective and involve perceptual experience

         b.      Objective as some color responses are better or more correct than others

                   i.       Stop sign are really red even if color blind individuals or druggies see them as green

59.    Should preserve hidden gems because this will make it more likely we will have better or more correct aes responses to nature

         a.      I wonder how useful this will be in policy context

60.    Hume’s true judges

         a.      Those with superior taste

         b.      Aes responses are fo superior quality

         c.      Are rare

         d.      Have

                   i.       Strong sense

                   ii.      Delicate sentiment

                   iii.     Improved by practice

                   iv.     Perfected by comparison

                   v.      Cleared of all prejudice

         e.      Joint verdict of such is true standard of taste/beauty

61.    Parson’s says Hume gives criteria for “correct” aes judge

         a.      Earlier he was talking about better and that some are correct

62.    Need Sable for comparison:

63.    Hume says

         a.      True judge: is experienced in making comparison between different species and degrees of excellence

         b.      “Man who has no opportunity to compare kinds of beauty is totally unqualified to pronounce an opinion on object presented to him”

64.    Parsons: Someone who has only read drug store romance novels would have skewed standard of literary excellence

         a.      Unaware of the more impressive things can be achieved with the novel form

         b.      Need masterpieces as a contrast to drug store romance novels

65.    Preserve Nature’s hidden gems for serve as masterpieces with which aspiring true judges can compare the more common objects of app

66.    Person might over-rate beauty of mediocre local landscape

         a.      Viewing Sable Island would put his previous assessments in better perspective and improve his judgment

         b.      Just as reading Tolstoy or Austen might improve judge of romance novels

67.    Objection: But since so few true judges there is not enough benefit to outweigh practical benefits to society at large

68.    True judges are valuable as can get true judge of aes objects

69.    But they also help the rest of us (who are not true judges) improve our taste

         a.      By delivering true verdicts of aes value of things

         b.      Can call own preferences into question

         c.      Help us see key things we have missed

         d.      Draw us toward works we have unduly neglected

70.    True Judges of aes value in nature help us improve our tastes in landscape

71.    Nature’s hidden gems often necessary training materials for true judges. Of aes value in nature

72.    True nature judges



74.    Nature and art dif

         a.      Art true judges can have us read novel for ourselves

         b.      Nature true judges can’t have us go to Sable island to refine our judgements

75.    True judges of nature’s beauties can’t help us because the hidden gems (masterpieces) they have seen can’t be seen by us.

76.    Vermeer canvases go black and only those with “Vermeer sight” can see them

         a.      Shall we keep canvases (expense for upkeep)    

         b.      Yes, as allow true judges to get the experience and become true judges and this is a boon to all of us

77.    Nature critics experiences will allow them to make truer judgements about works we can experience.

         a.      A worthy investment