Philosophy 450: Senior Seminar on Natural Beauty

Ned Hettinger, Spring 2008, Mon/Wed 3:20-4:35, Maybank 206

Course webpage:

Office: 16 Glebe, Rm. 201, Office Phone: 953-5786, Email:

Office hours:12:10-2:10 T,Th (Also stop by my office and see if I’m busy or make appointment)

Course Description

This seminar examines issues at the intersection of aesthetics and environmental philosophy. Topics include: Relationships between the aesthetic appreciation of nature and art; the role of knowledge, imagination, emotion, and engagement in the aesthetic appreciation of nature; the claim that nature is always beautiful and never ugly; whether there can be better and worse environmental appreciation; whether harmful environments can be beautiful; everyday aesthetics and the aesthetic appreciation of human-altered environments; and aesthetic value as a rationale for environmental protection.


           Readings available on the library’s E-Reserves page: (Password: hettinger) or the course webpage (see above)


          Seminar Presentation (15%): A presentation to the class on one of the assigned articles and a 1-2 page (single-spaced) synopsis of the article that will be distributed to the class and the instructor just before the presentation. Seminar leaders should prepare about 15-20 minutes of comments (or the time needed to fairly present and explain the article) and have several questions, criticisms, or focus issues. You will meet with me a week prior to your presentation with a written outline to discuss the article you are presenting.

          Term paper (10-15 pages) (35%)


                          -           Feb 8: One page description of paper topic and list of possible articles for use in the paper. Due on Friday, Feb 8st, 1pm

                          -           Feb 15: Two to four page paper proposal and literature review on Friday, Feb 15th, 1pm

                          -           Mar 14: Copy of draft paper (5-7 pages) to the instructor and to a fellow student on Friday, March 14th, 1pm

                          -           Mar 21: Comment due (see below)

                          -           Apr 11: Final version of paper (10-15 pages) due on Friday, April 11th, 1pm

          Comments (1-2 pages) on another student’s draft term paper, Friday, March 21st, 1pm given to both the writer of the draft paper and to the instructor (3%)

          Short Paper (4-6 pages) summarizing and critically analyzing an assigned article. Due on Friday, Feb 1st 1pm (12%)

          Two ( one-page or less) “critical questions” (due at the beginning of class) raising a question, objection, or issue from the reading for that day. You sign up for these. Be prepared to speak to the class about what you wrote on the days you turn in these assignments (5%)

          Reading quizzes There will be brief quizzes at the beginning of class on the reading for that class period, typically one per week. There will be no make-ups for these quizzes, but you can send me an email before the class briefly describing the reading for that class and that will count instead (10%)

          Class participation and attendance (5%)

          Final Exam, Saturday, April 26, 12-3pm (15%)