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Environmental Values and Human Purposes



Some writings by Alan Holland provide the starting point for an exploration of sources of environmental value in human social practices. It is argued that many practices both serve human purposes and also provide a setting for the emergence of environmental value. Such practices are ones in which activity is embedded in, and so both strongly constrained and enabled by, its conditions and media. Capitalist 'modernisation' has tended to erode these practices and associated values in favour of external purposes and instrumental values, especially in the farmed countryside. In the face of this, and partly on grounds of social justice, a re-valuation of urban open spaces is advocated.
Environmental Values 17 (2008): 00–00. doi:
© 2008 The White Horse Press
Environmental Values and Human Purposes
The Department of Sociology
University of Essex
Colchester, CO4 3SQ, UK
Some writings by Alan Holland provide the starting point for an exploration of
sources of environmental value in human social practices. It is argued that many
practices both serve human purposes and also provide a setting for the emergence
of environmental value. Such practices are ones in which activity is embedded
in, and so both strongly constrained and enabled by, its conditions and media.
Capitalist ʻmodernisationʼ has tended to erode these practices and associated
values in favour of external purposes and instrumental values, especially in the
farmed countryside. In the face of this, and partly on grounds of social justice,
a re-valuation of urban open spaces is advocated.
Habitats, nature, sustainability, intrinsic value
Environmental Values 17.2
Environmental Values 17.2
This paper is provoked by reection on the dilemmas of practical action to
defend ʻnatureʼ in the face of ever-intensifying pressures for ʻdevelopmentʼ.
This is particularly acute in urban areas, where open spaces are frequently seen
as unsightly, ʻwasteʼ ground or designated as ʻbrowneld sitesʼ, eminently suit-
able for development. Noting some of Alan Hollandʼs reservations about some
aspects of environmental ethics, I embark on an exploration of some ideas
from environmental sociology in search of some sources for the emergence
of environmental values in the course of human social life and practice. The
loss of such sources of value as a result of agricultural modernisation has been
bitterly and powerfully expressed by writers such as Marion Shoard, and her
response to the transformation of the countryside provides the grounding for
my own advocacy of a re-valuation of our remaining urban open spaces. But
questions remain – what normative authority can such advocacy claim against
competing demands for ʻdevelopmentʼ, or for a tidy, domesticated and control-
led urban scene?
As I write this I am also engaged in the dispiriting task of responding, on behalf
of our local natural history society, to two public ʻconsultationsʼ initiated by our
Borough Council. One is the draft ʻcore strategyʼ, setting the framework for local
ʻdevelopmentʼ over the coming 15 years, while the other sets out the Councilʼs
plans for provision of parks and open spaces in the face of the challenges posed
by ʻpressure for increasing residential and commercial development …ʼ. The
central ʻvisionʼ that shapes the rst document is that our town will ʻdevelop as
a prestigious regional centreʼ, a ʻpreferred destination for visitors, for business
location and for investmentʼ. It will also ʻcreate a sustainable environment in
which people will continue to enjoy high levels of health and well-beingʼ.
The consultative document on parks and open spaces is confronted with
a considerable challenge by the implications of the core strategy. Combining
large-scale new housing developments, associated infrastructural provision (not
that there has been much sign of this!), new industrial and business sites and
tourist facilities with enhanced provision of high quality green open spaces
seems a daunting prospect. Courageously, the document lists the reasons why
it is important to do just this. There are, apparently, ve. First is the economic
value. House-buyers are willing to pay more to be near green spaces, so there is
a positive inuence on property prices and land values. Second, there are health
benets: levels of obesity, heart disease and mental health problems could all
be reduced by exercise and ʻaccess to the natural environmentʼ. Third, places to
play outdoors are important for childhood development. Fourth, better manage-
Environmental Values 17.2
Environmental Values 17.2
ment of open spaces can reduce fear of crime and enable people to make the
most of their environments. Finally, open spaces contribute in various ways to
community cohesion, as venues for social events, providing meeting places for
people of different ages, ethnic origins and so on.
Running through this list and its elaborations there are arguments that do touch
on real requirements for the living of satisfactory lives in an urban environment.
However, what is unmistakable is a certain opportunism in the way that the case
is made. Open space provision is pressed into the service of current governmental
policy priorities and ʻmoral panicsʼ: obesity, ʻanti-social behaviourʼ, communal
tensions. The emphasis on economic value is particularly interesting. It links
to central government pressure for increased housing provision as well as the
local ʻvisionʼ for a ʻprestigious regional centreʼ. However, there are internal
contradictions. Provision of open space is not a statutory requirement, so local
authorities have to fund it by means such as ʻplanning gainʼ. In other words,
developers have to be persuaded it is in their interests that green open spaces
be provided. Increased property prices for ʻprestigiousʼ developments close to
green open spaces should do the trick maybe. However, the governmentʼs
verbal commitment is to ʻaffordableʼ housing. On the face of it, providing good
quality green spaces adjacent to new developments cuts against this. If we are
to rely on the market to deliver affordable housing, then, according to this logic,
green spaces should be obliterated and environmental quality degraded. On the
other hand, if green spaces are to be provided in order to raise property and
land values, then the association of afuence with a disproportionate share of
environmental goods is reinforced: the link between ʻsustainabilityʼ and social
justice is broken.
The above list of reasons for providing green open spaces in the face of intense
development pressures reects a perceived need to make a strong, unsentimental
case that will appeal to powerful political and economic decision-makers. At
the same time, however, the document seems to acknowledge a more universal
and democratic set of needs that should be addressed, and there are even hints
at the compensatory role of ʻaccess to the natural environmentʼ: obesity and
heart disease, as well as high levels of stress and mental health problems are
acknowledged as pathological symptoms of a contemporary mode of life and
work. Fear of crime is acknowledged to inhibit peopleʼs use of public space.
The presence of communal tensions is acknowledged in the advocacy of public
open space to ameliorate them. Ironically, much of this social pathology can
be linked to the very values and priorities at the core of the local development
strategy: the competitive struggle for prestige and economic wealth.
The inherent tensions in this ofcial advocacy of green open spaces and
public access to the pleasures of nature are probably widely experienced and
well-understood by anyone practically involved in environmental politics. Do
you give the real, moral, sentimental, ʻutopianʼ reasons for defending nature, or
do you nd a language and value-frame that you hope will articulate with that
Environmental Values 17.2
Environmental Values 17.2
of those with decision-making power? The former approach may (and to many
of those individuals and organisations currently engaged in the eld certainly
does) seem naïve and futile. But the latter, pragmatic approach also has its limita-
tions. As we abandon the deeper sources of our passion, the more instrumental
discourses we adopt lose their sense of urgency and authenticity and, with that,
their persuasive power. As to practical efcacy, it is worth noting that virtually
all the laudable policy objectives proclaimed in the consultative document have
already been over-ridden by planning decisions taken before the ʻconsultationʼ
is over. Maybe a forthright rejection of the core vision of a ʻprestigious regional
centreʼ in favour of an enhanced quality of life, a more harmonious relationship
with the local natural environment and a slower pace of life might at least have
pointed to the possibility of an alternative?
The problem is how to ground such an alternative vision. Is it just a matter of
taste, or personal preference? Why should anyone, let alone the planners, build-
ing developers and councillors, take any notice? One place to look might be the
recently formed discipline of environmental ethics. Alan Holland has provided
us with some convincing arguments against the modes of thought that currently
predominate in shaping decisions about the fate of environmental ʻgoodsʼ. In a
series of publications he has contested the prevailing reduction of value to price
in the neo-classical ʻtake-overʼ of the notion of sustainability (see especially
Holland 1999). He has gone on to demonstrate the limitations of the utilitarian
view of human nature and the good life as ʻsatisfaction of preferencesʼ that un-
derpins neo-classical economics. The transfer of this conception into dominant
interpretations of sustainability undermines any serious restraining inuence that
the earlier vision of sustainable development might have had. The proclaimed
distinction between ʻstrongʼ and ʻweakʼ sustainability turns out, on his analysis,
to have little or no purchase if the objective of ʻsustained welfareʼ, dened as
satisfaction of preferences, remains unquestioned.
Hollandʼs argument is that we need the means to make judgments, instead
of supposing that objective measurement will resolve our dilemmas. Partly this
is because, deprived of the false ʻuniversal equivalentʼ of monetary calculation,
choices have to be made between qualitatively different – often incommensu-
rable – goods and priorities. This also means that questions of value – often of
conicting values – cannot be suppressed. A more institutionally situated way
of putting this is to say we need to put ourselves in the position of putatively
informed and empowered citizens rather than as mere consumers (or, as my
consultative document puts it, ʻcustomersʼ).
Environmental Values 17.2
Environmental Values 17.2
So, how well do the achievements of environmental ethics to date equip us
as active citizens? Here, Holland is again in critical mode. As a leading gure
in the discipline he has some serious reservations about it. In one recent paper
he lists ve of these (Holland 2006). First, approaches to environmental ethics
are often too closely dependent on specic ecological theories (Holland 1995).
Second, there is a tendency to extend to non-human beings categories that have
their paradigm application to humans, rather than to value nature for what it
is, independently of any commonalities with ourselves. Third, the ʻdeeperʼ end
of environmentalism makes use of the idea of intrinsic value in non-humans.
Holland has some interesting reservations about this notion, and they will be
discussed later. Fourth (and closely tied to his questioning of the idea of intrinsic
value), Holland criticises the widespread neglect of the value of relationships in
environmental ethics (though conceding that this is partly corrected by recent
work in feminist ethics and increasing attention to the signicance of place).
Fifth, through its strong contrast between intrinsic and instrumental value, en-
vironmental ethics is inclined to undervalue the latter.
Although a sceptic about the concept of intrinsic value, Holland does defend
the use of the concept of nature in environmental ethics. In a response to Vogelʼs
(2002) argument that the natural and artefactual are so inextricably mixed that
the concept of nature itself should be abandoned in environmental ethics, Hol-
land offers a clear distinction. Against the view that nature is whatever remains
uninuenced by human activity, he proposes a distinction between the natural and
artefactual in terms of deliberate or intentional acts on the part of humans:
But what makes it [a cultivated plant] an artefact is not that we planted it, and
in that sense caused it to come into existence, but the fact that human ingenuity
has gone into shaping the kind of plant that it is. Hence, a thing is articial if
and only if its nature is at least partly the result of a deliberate or intentional act,
usually involving the application of some art or skill. Correspondingly, a thing
is natural if and only if it owes nothing of what it is to a deliberate or intentional
act. (Holland 2006: 130).
But precisely what sort of relationship between intentional acts and their outcomes
is required to qualify something as an artefact? For example, oceanic pollution and
climate change do owe something to deliberate and intentional human activity.
However, we must suppose that the intentions involved were to do things like
take journeys by car, or fertilise crops, rather than to cause pollution or change
the climate. Since the context makes clear that Holland does not want to include
such things as artefacts, it follows that ʻresultʼ in the above quotation has to be
taken as implying more than a merely causal relationship.
So, perhaps an artefact is something that is the intended outcome of deliber-
ate human activity. There is even some difculty here, as anyone involved in
creative activity will readily acknowledge that our creations often turn out quite
differently from our rst thoughts – indeed, that there is something about the
Environmental Values 17.2
Environmental Values 17.2
materials and conditions with and under which we work that exceeds, transforms
or frustrates our purposes. However, as Hollandʼs example of the cultivated
plant implies, it is the relationship between human intentional activity and the
nature of its outcomes that is crucial here. Avoiding the thicket of controversy
over ʻessentialismʼ, I propose to render this as a matter of the kind, or sort of
thing that is produced. So, for something to count as an artefact it should be
describable as the sort of thing that was intended by its maker. For example, a
garden may count as an artefact as the gardener did intend it to be a garden, even
though the slugs got some of the plants and others were killed by drought, so
her initial design was frustrated in some respects. This is, I hope, close to what
Holland intended by his way of making the distinction, but it leaves a huge and
diverse category of ʻresults of (intentional) human activityʼ that, while not, by
denition, ʻnaturalʼ are not artefactual either. These might include plants and
animals, objects, relations, processes, environments and so on, all of which may
have been signicantly affected or shaped in some way as a result of intentional
human activity but not as intended outcomes. These may be unintended conse-
quences that are recognised and valued, ones that frustrate the intentions of the
activity of which they are consequences, or other purposes, or they may simply
be unrecognised and unacknowledged, but still causally signicant.
Despite their varied and often tenuous relationship to human purposive action
this large category of ʻresults of human activityʼ, which yet do not count as
artefacts, raises interesting and important issues for environmental philosophy.
This is, to some extent, because, as some writers of the ʻdeath of natureʼ school
point out, there remain few if any areas of what we commonly regard as ʻnatureʼ
that do not bear the mark of past human activity. The mountain peaks, open seas,
arctic forest and tundra and the polar ice-caps come close, but even in many of
these more remote settings, small populations of humans do (or did) manage a
meagre subsistence. Even where this is no longer true, human-induced climate
change, air pollution and other unintended effects of human activity are signi-
cantly altering the remaining icons of what the Romantic tradition valorised in
its view of ʻwild natureʼ.
Perhaps to recapture some of their sense of awe and wonder – even terror – in
the face of natureʼs grandeur we need now to look out beyond the Earth itself to
the immensity of the universe. This Romantic heritage (in those countries and
cultural traditions where it has been inuential) does offer important cultural
resources for communities and individuals to discover something of the value
of nature – as an inspiring presence, far greater than ourselves, worthy of our
admiration and respect. Our contemporary deep ecologistsʼ perception of the
Environmental Values 17.2
Environmental Values 17.2
intrinsic value of nature and of our moral responsibility for it owes much to
this historical-cultural legacy (Hinchman and Hinchman 2007). So, too, argu-
ably, did the establishment of the National Parks in Britain (and probably also
in several other countries). The Act of Parliament that allowed for them, the
National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act of 1949, set out two aims: to
preserve the landscape, wildlife, architectural and historical value of selected
areas of ʻbeautiful and relatively wild countryʼ and to provide for ʻpublic open air
enjoymentʼ. The latter aim was to be achieved by taking into account ʻposition
in relation to centres of populationʼ in the selection of areas to be designated. In
fact, of the rst ten national parks to be designated, only two (the Peak District
and Yorkshire Dales) satised this criterion, whereas all conformed to the Ro-
mantic vision of wild, mountainous, relatively unpopulated landscapes.
This Romantic legacy, where it has taken hold, has, then, been effective in
preserving valued landscapes and sustaining such traditional ways of life that had
long been associated with them. But – and this also nds expression in the notion
of a ʻdeath of natureʼ – the identication of the ʻnaturalʼ with what is ʻotherʼ,
grand, ʻspecialʼ and inspiring is complicit in a certain failure to recognise and
protect the value of our more familiar, gentler, local and common environments
– also often thought of as ʻnatureʼ, despite the role of a long history of human
activity in shaping their current character: chalk downland, lowland heaths,
wetlands, old orchards, ancient woodland, ower-rich meadows and others (see
OʼNeill 2007). Such legislation as exists to protect these environments has been
largely ineffectual in the face of intense pressure from agricultural ʻmodernisa-
tionʼ and urbanisation, and it has only been in recent decades (in the UK) that
the deep sense of loss of these valued environments has expressed itself in social
movement activity and come to be felt across wide sectors of the population
– both urban and rural.
One of the most eloquent writers giving voice to this deep sense of loss has
been Marion Shoard. In one of her books (Shoard 1980) she provides plenty
of facts and gures to buttress her theme of the ʻtheft of the countrysideʼ, but
perhaps more powerful is her narrative of agricultural change in the Kent valley
of Alkham. Even after the ploughing up of much of the downs, the village of
Alkham still, until the late 1970s, ʻwas virtually ringed by rolling chalk downland
interspersed with oak and ash remnants of the wildwoodʼ. However, despite the
resistance of locals and some intervention by public bodies, the new owner of
the land cleared it of its ʻnaturalʼ vegetation:
The downland was ploughed up, bushes, scrubland and hedgerows were bulldozed
away, trees were felled, and one whole wood was removed … local people used
to walking through a leafy lane now have to struggle across ploughed earth if
they still feel it is worth taking the walk. Not many do. What was a particularly
attractive int-based track leading north from Alkham bounded by hedges and
bordered with primroses, violets, bluebells, campion and many other owers, is
now impossible to nd. The whole area has been made into one large eld, the
Environmental Values 17.2
Environmental Values 17.2
wood and hedges have gone and the dip in which the track ran has been lled
in. (Shoard 1980: 72)
The sense of loss experienced by many, and the agitation to conserve what little
remains in the face of immense pressures for destructive economic exploitation
has focused on the loss of traditional rural landscapes and habitats, but urban
locales are also, and perhaps increasingly, subjects of passionate conservation
interest: landscaped parks and gardens, as well as ne buildings, townscapes,
former industrial workings and so-called ʻbrowneldʼ sites. Some of these count
as ʻartefactualʼ in my revised version of Hollandʼs denition – landscaped parks
and gardens, ne buildings and the like are to a considerable degree the intended
outcome of the work of their designers and builders. They come close to hav-
ing the sort of value attributed to ne works of art, and to be fully appreciated
have to be viewed through the medium of a historical-cultural understanding
of their aesthetic and social meanings and historical signicance. However, the
townscapes, disused industrial and browneld sites are different again – they are
certainly the consequences of human intentional activity, but not, in the main,
the intended outcome of it. Presumably the builders of factories and diggers of
mines and quarries did not set out on their enterprise with the aim of providing
the tourists of the future with ʻindustrial heritage sitesʼ to visit. So, they are nei-
ther ʻnatureʼ nor ʻartefactʼ yet increasingly they are seen to have environmental
value. Interestingly, a nature reserve recently established in Essex by combining
several former chalk quarries, and entirely surrounded by dense, bleak, impersonal
modern housing estates, is called ʻChafford Gorgesʼ, as if the steep sides of the
quarries were to be imagined as a spectacular phenomenon of nature.
Iʼll return later to the importance of such urban locales, but for now let us
consider further the sorts of rural landscape and habitat whose loss was so power-
fully lamented by Shoard. That is, downland, old orchards, ancient woodlands
and heaths are more likely to be valued as ʻnatureʼ – or, in the terms of the
planning document I mentioned above, ʻnatural heritageʼ. Although these are
the outcomes of long-term interactions between human intentional practices and
natural conditions and processes, they are not planned or intended outcomes in
the way landscaped parks or buildings are. For the most part they are contingent
by-products of activities carried on for other reasons the products of coppicing,
grazing of domestic animals, harvesting of fruit and so on.
What distinguishes these from other contingent outcomes of past practices,
such as oceanic pollution, climate change, intensively managed ʻfarmscapesʼ that
are not, generally, positively valued? One sort of answer (and one, as we shall
see, emphasised by Holland himself) has to do with the relationship between
specic past practices and our sense of our own identity and place in a wider set
of historical and spatial relationships. This must be at least part of the picture,
but it also applies to valued cultural products works of art, ne buildings,
landscaped parks and gardens and other artefacts.
Environmental Values 17.2
Environmental Values 17.2
So what, if anything, is distinctive about downland, coppiced woodland,
fenland, lowland heath, grazing marsh and the rest that make them objects of
positive environmental value? The term often used in nature conservation circles
is ʻsemi-natural habitatʼ. The emphasis of nature conservationists on these implic-
itly acknowledges that, at least in the UK and most of Western Europe, ʻpristineʼ
natural habitats, ones whose natures ʻowe nothing toʼ past human activity, are
vanishingly scarce. Equally, it suggests that these largely unintended outcomes
of sustained past human interaction with non-human nature continue to have
conservation value. This is conservation value that cannot be easily assimilated,
or reduced, to the category of ʻcultural valueʼ as in the case of artefacts.
At least one important source of value here may be that as the use of the term
ʻhabitatʼ rather than, for example, ʻlandscapeʼ suggests – the material practices
through which human activity has shaped these environments has favoured co-
existence with signicant populations of wild species. To the extent that numerous
species of orchids and butteries could ourish on chalk downland alongside,
and even benet from, the grazing of stock animals, the downland becomes an
ecosystem in its own right, with its own distinctive features. The human role in
determining stocking levels, the timing and intensity of grazing and so-on also
plays its part, even if unintentionally, in reproducing the ecological requirements
of the animal and plant communities of the downland. Something similar could
be said about most, but not all, of our list of ʻsemi-naturalʼ habitats.
Arguably, these are examples of a certain sort of embedding of human inten-
tional agency within its naturally and historically given conditions and media.
Elsewhere (Benton 1989, 1992, 1993) I have attempted to develop a way of
classifying practices in terms of their different ʻintentional structuresʼ. By this I
mean the different ways in which human intentional activity is situated in rela-
tion to its conditions, means, media and outcomes. ʻProductive-transformativeʼ
intentional structures approximate to what is often called ʻinstrumental actionʼ. A
given raw material (which may be a product of a previous set of social practices)
is transformed in such a way as to serve an intended purpose: a piece of wood is
transformed into an item of furniture, or a piece of clay into a ceramic pot. Of
course, enabling conditions and constraints are presupposed in such practices
but the central concept of action as transformative hides these conditions from
view, as if they did not need to be taken into account.
However, in what I called ʻecoregulatoryʼ practices, such as agriculture, syl-
viculture, horticulture, animal husbandry and others, human intentional action is
embedded in ways that make acknowledgment of such enablements and constraints
unavoidable. Of course, such practices as these have become established only
on the basis of past transformative action to clear natural vegetation, introduce
fencing or other barriers, provide irrigation etc. However, once established, and
for the period of time that a given technical organisation of work prevails, the
main transformative moment is not achieved by human agency, but by natural,
organic processes of growth, development and reproduction. In the main, human
Environmental Values 17.2
Environmental Values 17.2
activity is devoted to optimising and maintaining the conditions under which
autonomous organic processes that produce desired outcomes take place. For this
reason, human intentional activity is constrained in important ways by external
conditions which are not (immediately, and for any given phase in the develop-
ment of the technical organisation of work) open to intentional manipulation.
So, for example, climate, altitude, soil type and availability of water will limit
the geographical range, and, within it, the localities where a particular strain of
crop plant can be grown successfully. Where conditions do favour the crop plant,
a mix of different labouring activities, distributed appropriately across seasons,
will be needed to ensure success. The organic requirements and developmental
rhythms of the crop, therefore, constrain the distribution of human activity both
spatially and temporally.
There are yet other varieties of intentional structure – for example ʻprimary
appropriationʼ. This notion includes both activities such as mining, wind farming
and quarrying which involve the bringing into human social use naturally given
materials, substances and forms of energy, and others, such as shing and hunt-
ing, which involve culling for human use from naturally occurring populations
of wild species. In these cases, the limited ʻmeans/endsʼ transformative model
of ʻinstrumental actionʼ is still less appropriate. Naturally occurring beings,
substances, etc. are brought into human social use primarily by prospecting,
detecting, capturing, extracting and re-locating, rather than by being materially
transformed (though, of course, subsequent labour processes may, and usually
will, involve transformative action – rening, skinning, cooking etc.). In these
sorts of practice, human intentional activity is still more constrained by non-
manipulable conditions. In the case of non-renewable resources there is an
ultimate limit imposed by the sheer amount of resource, but, more mediately,
constraints are imposed by its physical location, accessibility of deposits given
current technologies, as well as geopolitical, military, infrastructural and economic
processes and structures. The example of middle-east oil reserves is a vivid and
intractable illustration of the signicance of this complex of intertwined condi-
tions of action. In the case of renewable resources, human intentional action
is, again, severely spatially constrained you have to hunt or sh wherever
the game or sh happen to be (and you probably have to acquire quite a lot of
scientic and/or experiential understanding of the behaviour and life-cycles of
the species concerned), and the practice is self-defeating if ʻharvestingʼ rates
exceed the reproductive rates of the population.
This general notion of ʻintentional structureʼ could be extended to other
practices such as child-rearing, education, caring for the sick, artistic creation,
cooking, scientic research, taking a walk and so on. In these very different sorts
of case, too, the location of human action, as well as its timing and the sorts of skill
and understanding required are both constrained and enabled by spatial, bodily,
organic and developmental processes that have their own autonomous temporality
and patterns of resistance/affordance to intentional interventions. However, here
Environmental Values 17.2
Environmental Values 17.2
too, action is both constrained and regulated by cultural and/or ethical norms and
conventions, and may have affective or symbolic signicance that makes it the
kind of action it is, and so on. So, for example, emotional engagements between
carers and cared-for may motivate but also may be emergent from the caring
relationship, and, as socially recognised (and, often, institutionally embedded)
practices, they are also governed by ethical and normative considerations. The
traditions of sociological theory acknowledge this by, for example, distinguishing
between ʻinstrumentally rationalʼ, ʻvalue-rationalʼ, ʻaffectiveʼ and ʻtraditionalʼ
types of social action (Weber), or between ʻinstrumentalʼ and ʻcommunicativeʼ
action (Habermas). However, these typologies generally under-represent the
extent to which action is constrained or regulated by the material or organic
character of its conditions and objects. That is, the socio-cultural embedding of
action is well recognised, but its material embedding is not.
There are insights to be gained from the discussion so far which may help
cut through the thicket of debate about the contrast between instrumental and
intrinsic value. One of Hollandʼs critical comments on environmental ethics is
its tendency to undervalue the instrumental. I understand his thought here as
meaning that much human interaction with nature has been and still is ordinarily
need-meeting, and to denigrate this in the name of intrinsic value in non-human
nature is to risk being unable to reunite legitimate human claims to secure liveli-
hoods with a proper regard for nature. He also argues for more attention to the
processes of industry and agriculture, rather than their products:
… the value and dignity of work; the challenge and satisfaction of the exercise
of craft and the application of skill; and, in the case of gardening and farming
especially, the rewarding and productive engagement with other life forms and
the opportunities to exercise virtues of nurture and care. (Holland 2006: 133)
Arguably, when understood in this way, our need-meeting interactions with non-
human nature are not readily reducible to the concept of instrumental action.
My attempt to analyse and differentiate intentional structures involved in a
variety of such practices illustrates the extent to which human activity is embedded
in its external conditions, dependent in many ways on processes and structures
that are not available for intentional transformation, and is thus constrained in
time and space, and in the understandings and skills required for success. If we
add to this the legacy of social theory in exploring the normative and affective
regulation of social action then we have a more complex and adequate view of
need-meeting activity. The conceptual reduction of this great range of different
activities to the notion of ʻinstrumental actionʼ under-theorises the forms of
embedding of practice in both material and social conditions and relations.
Environmental Values 17.2
Environmental Values 17.2
Considerations of value enter into and arise from practices in various ways.
Pride and satisfaction in the acquisition and exercise of craft skill, and reward-
ing interaction with other life-forms are two such values mentioned by Holland.
These are, indeed, varieties of intrinsic value, but they are intrinsic to practice, as
structured intentional action, not (at least, not directly) intrinsic to the non-human
natural beings or objects encountered or worked upon. Equally, recognising the
socio-material embedding of such practices precludes reduction of their media,
conditions, objects and means to the status of ʻmereʼ instruments of humanly
imposed purposes: respect for the properties of material worked-on, patience,
care and nurturance as well as recognition of socio-cultural norms, characterise
much material practice.
So, if we still wish to call the forms of value that are emergent in such
practices ʻinstrumentalʼ, in virtue of the relation of the practices to human
need-meeting, then there is a good case to be made, as Holland shows, for re-
valuing ʻinstrumental valueʼ. However, an alternative approach would be to
reserve the notion of ʻinstrumental actionʼ and the value attached to it to those
forms of material practice engaged in solely for purposes external to themselves
– to practices engaged in through coercive power relations, or for purposes of
money-exchange, for example. The contrast intended here is most powerfully
expressed in Marxʼs discussion of the alienation of labour under relations of
private property:
What, then, constitutes the alienation of labour? First in the fact that labour is
external to the worker, i.e., it does not belong to his intrinsic nature; that in his
work, therefore, he does not afrm himself but denies himself, does not feel
content but unhappy, does not develop freely his physical and mental energy but
morties his body and ruins his mind. The worker therefore only feels himself
outside his work, and in his work feels outside himself. He feels at home when
he is not working, and when he is working he does not feel at home. His labour
is therefore not voluntary, but coerced; it is forced labour. It is therefore not the
satisfaction of a need; it is merely a means to satisfy needs external to it. (Marx
[1844] in Marx and Engels Vol. 3, 1975).
If the notion of instrumental value is reserved for human practices that are, in
this sense, alienated, then the tendency of environmental ethicists to disparage
it is supported. Meanwhile, non-coercive, non-alienated forms of need-meeting
practice can be understood as having their own intrinsic value as both self-af-
rming and other-respecting. This is more readily recognised in the case of
what I called ecoregulatory practices. In the need for caring and nurturative
skills in animal ʻhusbandryʼ, gardening or pastoralism, there are parallels with
human-to-human caring relationships, and commonly there emerge comparable
affective ties and ʻmoral sentimentsʼ between humans and non-human animals
(and even plants). Also, in more traditional versions of these practices, the
co-existence with non-domesticated species and forms gives opportunities to
Environmental Values 17.2
Environmental Values 17.2
develop understanding of their variety, their modes of life and their distinctive
ways of coping with the challenges of organic existence.
Something similar, too, can emerge even in scientic work. Evelyn Fox Kel-
lerʼs vision of a practice of science which does not insist on strict boundaries
between subject and object, but which adopts an attitude of receptivity, affec-
tion and reciprocity points in this direction. Instead of a science which seeks
to subordinate its objects to its categories in its theory, and to human interests
in its practice, she claims to nd in a subaltern practice of science a version of
ʻobjectivityʼ which fully respects the otherness of its objects and thus the inherent
limitations of its own conceptualisations. She nds this exemplied in the work
of geneticist and developmental biologist Barbara McClintock:
The crucial point for us is that McClintock can risk the suspension of boundaries
between subject and object without jeopardy to science precisely because, to her,
science is not premised on that division. Indeed, the intimacy she experiences with
the objects she studies – intimacy born of a lifetime of cultivated attentiveness
– is a wellspring of her powers as a scientist. (Keller 1985: 164)
We have, then, a very diverse range of kinds of practice in which human inten-
tionality is embedded in its socio-natural conditions and contexts, and relates
to its means and objects in ways that, although related to the meeting of human
needs and purposes, are not readily reducible to the concept of ʻinstrumental
actionʼ. These practices, it is suggested, provide the experiential setting in which
moral sentiments of affection and respect for the non-human elements/participants
are liable to arise spontaneously. However, the emergence of these sentiments
and the sorts of valuation which go along with them are readily subverted and
eroded by externally imposed distortions and transformations.
This relates to the concerns of Marx in the above-quoted passage on alienated
labour. Marx was there speaking of what he later characterised as ʻformalʼ
subsumption of labour under capitalist relations. This is a process in which the
labour process itself is not transformed, but is distorted by its being pressed
into the service of employers who seek to prot from the sale of its products.
However, under capitalist economic relations, competitive pressures lead to
technical innovations and subsequent reorganisations of the labour process,
reducing labour costs, often by de-skilling, and rendering the labour process
itself more open to managerial control and predictability. This is ʻmaterialʼ
subsumption of the labour process.
Although the central concern of Marx, and most subsequent theorists of labour
processes, was with the consequences for the human workers involved, these
Environmental Values 17.2
Environmental Values 17.2
recurrent technical transformations also have implications for the non-human
conditions, beings and relations involved. Of most relevance to our concerns
here, is the long-run tendency of technical reorganisations of agriculture and
other ecoregulatory practices that renders them ever-more free of constraints
imposed by particularities of time, place and socio-cultural context. Locally
adapted strains of crop plants have been replaced by standardised high yield
hybrid varieties with associated transformations of local agricultural ecologies,
and application of the chemical inputs and mechanisation that they require. Typi-
cally these technical reorganisations have also entailed extensive changes in rural
class structures, increased unavailability of sustainable rural livelihoods, and a
range of sometimes catastrophic socio-ecological side-effects (see for example
Berardi and Geisler 1984, Conway and Pretty 1991, Shiva 1993, Magdoff, Foster
and Buttel (eds) 2000 and Pretty 2002). Some of these unintended and often
self-destructive consequences have led to political and economic pressures for
further transformations, of which the currently deeply contested deployment of
transgenic organisms in agriculture is the best known.
In summary, the long-run tendencies of capitalist ʻmodernisationʼ of eco-regu-
latory labour processes are towards forms of intensication and ʻdisembeddingʼ
of working practices from local particularities, and replacement of experientially
acquired skills by routine implementation of standardised scientic-technical
routines. Here, and in other elds of practice, the intrinsic value and satisfaction
in work is eroded, and the opportunities for ʻrewarding and productive engage-
ment with other life formsʼ is limited to the point of extinction.
As newer disembedded and disenchanted forms of working practice become
pervasive, remaining fragments of the forms they displaced acquire a new
and greater signicance. This does, perhaps, add to our understanding of the
contemporary conservation priority accorded to semi-natural habitats such as
downland, heath, and ancient coppice woodland. Not only do they remind us of
former ways of engaging with non-human nature that favoured the ourishing
of populations of other life forms, but they also represent almost-lost labouring
practices that called for skill, experience, and understanding and were worthy
of respect in their own right.
Again, this brings to attention Hollandʼs insistence on the importance of our
ability to situate our own lives in a wider historical context and narrative. On
the value environments have for us, Holland says:
… they constitute our home and the familiar places in which everyday life takes
place, from which it draws its meaning, and in which personal and social histories
are embodied. (Holland 2006: 133)
Environmental Values 17.2
Environmental Values 17.2
However, the twin dynamics of agricultural intensication and urbanisation
have led in a few decades to an abrupt loss (in the UK and large parts of western
Europe) of this setting for the living of the personal and social lives of succes-
sive former generations. Any sense of oneʼs place in a long-running historical
narrative has been rendered inaccessible to the majority of us. This is more than
the loss of a sense of oneʼs place in an historical narrative. It has also meant
the loss of a whole range of everyday pleasures that were formerly taken for
granted. Again, Marion Shoard on Alkham:
The existence of so much rough down, scrub and wood within easy walking
distance was one of the villageʼs main attractions. Tussocky, hummocky grass
with numerous anthills, interspersed with bushes of wild rose, wayfaring tree,
bramble and hawthorn, made the hills behind the village a favourite playground
for village children; many older people made these hills the start of a circular
walk up around the village. On the opposite, more gentle side of the valley it
used to be possible to walk for miles through a belt of rough chalk downland
lying between farmland in the valley bottom and woodland on top. This belt of
downland provided good blackberrying land and plenty of owers, birds and
butteries; one length of it was always known as ʻPaigle Meadowʼ because of
the creamy drifts of cowslips (ʻpaigleʼ is an old Kent word for this ower) that
used to grow there … [Sunny Hill] … facing southwards across the valley was
a particularly favourite spot for blackberrying, picnicking or playing hide-and-
seek, all of which activities could be pursued on an aromatic carpet of wild
thyme, marjoram and wild carrot, eyebright, rock-rose and harebell, pyramidal
and spotted orchid. Butteries – the chalkhill blue, common blue, brown argus,
Adonis blue and brimstone – would dance among the owers, while children
played hide-and-seek among the bushes of wild rose, wayfaring tree, hawthorn,
blackthorn and gorse. (Shoard 1980: 71–72)
So, the downland is not only a reminder of past, more intrinsically valued, and
more nature-friendly labour processes, but it also has a present value as the
arena within which valued relationships are lived, in which childhood memories
are formed, and the sounds, sights and scents of non-human nature are enjoyed
and recognised. It is this latter aspect that most differentiates the value of these
ʻsemi-naturalʼ environments from the cultural value we attribute to artefacts.
These environments provide to a greater degree the opportunity to appreciate the
diversity of other living species, to learn to identify butteries, orchids, ferns or
birds, to appreciate the amazing variety of ways they sustain life, often against
apparently overwhelming odds.
Perhaps this is what Holland is getting at when he writes of the ʻhonouring
of a historical legacy – cultural, ecological or evolutionaryʼ (2006: 139), and it is
true that to understand these other species as ʻnetted togetherʼ with us, as Darwin
once put it, adds something important to our appreciation of them. Still, there is
something special, irrespective of this historical connection, about the making
Environmental Values 17.2
Environmental Values 17.2
of direct contact with beings of other species. The immense public fascination
with the TV series presented by David Attenborough the oft-repeated sequence
of his acceptance by a family group of mountain gorillas – is evidence of this
(though, of course, the viewerʼs experience is highly mediated). Perhaps more
telling are the huge numbers who regularly feed wild birds, or participate in
garden bird surveys (over 400,000 in a recent one).
There is a narrow foot-bridge over the river close to my home, in our town
centre. From the bridge, depending on the time of year, one can see the brilliant
courtship dances of banded demoiselle damselies, an occasional lurking pike,
scores of tiny sh-fry, powerful hawking dragonies – emperors, brown and
migrant hawkers even, if especially lucky, a brief glimpse of the iridescent
blue and red of a kingsher. On some days it is nearly impossible to cross the
bridge as adults stop to answer eager childrenʼs enquiries, and excitedly point
out to each other some new observation.
This takes us back to my starting point – the value of urban green spaces.
Alongside a many-sided struggle to restore the almost lost values of a former
sympathetically productive countryside, there is also available to us a compen-
sation for what has been lost. Urban open spaces including derelict former
industrial sites, old mineral workings, waste heaps, boggy ground, abandoned
orchards, the margins of playing elds, the banks of rivers and canals as well as
more formally recognised open spaces – are accessible to our now overwhelm-
ingly urban populations in a way that designated countryside access sites are
often not. Moreover, many of these sites precisely because they have not
suffered the ravages of agricultural intensication, and because they have, for
a host of contingent reasons, escaped ʻdevelopmentʼ — provide habitat for an
immense diversity of living species. The site of an abandoned and partly built
oil renery on Canvey Island, south Essex, has a diversity of invertebrate life
comparable with that recorded from Salisbury Plain, one of Europeʼs largest
and most important calcareous grassland reserves. If environmental value is, as
Iʼve suggested, emergent from common experiences in oneʼs working life and
everyday pleasures then its sources may be nourished by a re-valuation of these
urban so-called ʻbrowneldʼ sites, by a reversal of those policies that sacrice
them in favour of protection of ʻgreeneldʼ locales, and by fostering public ac-
cess and non-destructive enjoyment of their natural diversity.
Environmental Values 17.2
Environmental Values 17.2
In the above I have shifted from an attempt to explore some of the sources
in social practice of environmental value to the beginnings of an advocacy
for others. These considerations are vulnerable to strong objections from (at
least!) two, rather opposed standpoints. First, my exploration of the sources of
environmental value is loosely sociological rather than directly philosophical
– it doesnʼt adequately address the question with which we started – how are
environmental values to be justied? Why should those in power take seri-
ously my romantic wafe about kingshers, mining bees, grayling butteries
or solitary wasps (the prospective developer of a site protected as the habitat
for a rare solitary wasp was recently heard to say – ʻif it is solitary then we just
have to wait for it to dieʼ)? Perhaps as signicant, what of those members of the
public who explode with rage at the sight of long grasses and wild owers as
a local council reduces the frequency of its mowing of roadside verges? They,
too, have an environmental consciousness, but it is one of order and control, of
civilised domination over wild nature.
I have no clear answer to these questions. I have elsewhere (Benton 2004)
disputed the arguments of some, notably Andrew Collier, for whom environ-
mental values are objective: ʻbeing as such is goodʼ (Collier 1999). I certainly
share this as an intuitive response to the world, but I can see no adequate secular
argument for it and a secular argument is what I would require. However,
environmental value is not entirely subjective and arbitrary, either. There are
established cultural traditions which enable judgments to be made, shared and
discussed. These cultural traditions themselves have their sources in and are
sustained by a variety of shared practices, as weʼve seen, and by discursive re-
ections on those practices. However, such cultural traditions are not universally
shared (indeed, they have been eroded in ways discussed above) and they are
themselves diverse and often contested. Our situation, then, is not signicantly
different from that of activists in any other eld of ethical or political contro-
versy. We have no conclusive proofs or decisive pieces of evidence to put an
end to controversy. At the same time, we have a eld of contestation in which
evidence, experience, reasoning and dialogue have their place, and this might
give us some hope.
For partisans of a slower, fairer, more convivial, more environmentally
respectful and affectionate (and, in Hollandʼs sense, more meaningful) mode
of life, there is nothing for it but to enter into political engagement. For many,
joining a pressure group, social movement or organisation will be the obvious
rst move. Whilst these are now in some cases large and inuential organisa-
tions, there are limitations. One of these has to do with their (understandable)
tendency to adopt the values and language of the powerful actors they seek to
inuence. The exploration in this paper suggests that deep and wide-ranging
Environmental Values 17.2
Environmental Values 17.2
changes in the patterns of peopleʼs practical ways of engaging with each other
and the non-human world would be both needed for and presupposed by a thor-
ough-going shift in environmental values. If this is so, then cultural advocacy
and persuasion in civil society – including dialogue within the environmental
organisations themselves – in favour of a more radically alternative project will
be needed. More than this, pregurative work in establishing alternative ways
of interacting with nature in the interstices of existing society can give some
glimpses of what might be gained from larger scale social changes. Popular
demand for organic food, the spread of farmersʼ markets, consumer concerns
for animal welfare and traceability are instances of grass-roots shifts in this
direction. A small but promising instance of local community involvement in
the reshaping of local derelict ground into a convivial green open space with
ourishing wildlife is Mile End Park, in east London (see Hindley 2007).
The second sort of objection to my argument above might come from an
ecocentric perspective. Like Holland, I have situated environmental value in
the context of human personal and social relationships to non-human nature.
Does this make me (and him) vulnerable to the charge of ʻanthropocentrismʼ?
This brings us back to the opposition between instrumental and intrinsic value.
Much of my discussion above, as well as Hollandʼs own insistence on re-valu-
ing instrumental value, is intended to soften that opposition. Like Holland, I
nd it difcult to make sense of values that exist independently of subjects (not
necessarily human subjects) who assign value. On this view, environmental
value is inseparably associated with communities of beings with enough sensory
powers and psychological complexity to recognise, distinguish and establish
preferences for and against aspects of their environments. Thus far, this might
include a wide range of non-human animals, but in the full sense the presence
of cultural traditions and means of discursively establishing and contesting
value-attributions might also reasonably be held to be necessary to the existence
of environmental value.
Does this reduce my (our?) position to a form of anthropocentrism? On at
least one account of this concept it seems that it would. In her path-breaking
early work Robyn Eckersley (1992), advocated a radically ecocentric environ-
mental philosophy. In the course of her sympathetic criticisms of what she calls
ʻpreservationismʼ, she endorses Warwick Foxʼs characterisation of arguments
for wilderness preservation based on its aesthetic, symbolic and spiritual value
as anthropocentric. They are, for Fox and Eckersley, examples of arguments
ʻfor preserving the non-human world on the basis of its instrumental value to
humansʼ. However, this, it seems to me, misses a certain complexity in the
logic of such judgments of value. It is true that only human (or human-like)
beings could make judgments of aesthetic, symbolic or spiritual value. It is
also true that a strong case can be made for the preservation of objects of such
value-judgments in terms of human fullment and self-realisation. It is also
true that such a case would be anthropocentric in the sense that it relates the
Environmental Values 17.2
Environmental Values 17.2
desirability of preservation to a human purpose. However, the fullment of that
human purpose itself requires a non-anthropocentric orientation to its object.
Only if I recognise, appreciate, or perhaps am moved or awed by the inherent
qualities of the object of spiritual or aesthetic valuation will the experience of
it contribute in the appropriate way to my fullment. If some sorts of human
fullment are premised on non-anthropocentric orientations to the world, then
any simple opposition between what is instrumental to human purposes and
what has ʻintrinsic valueʼ becomes unsustainable.
To value nature, and opportunities to engage with it, for its aesthetic, spir-
itual or symbolic contribution to a fullled human life is therefore implicitly
to acknowledge the importance of a non-anthropocentric orientation to the
world. There is no contradiction, therefore, in valuing something for what it
is and valuing it as something whose existence enhances a human life. On the
contrary, human life would be poor, bleak and supercial if bereft of openness
to and respect for the integrity of beings other than ourselves.
Clive Spashʼs editorial help and advice was much appreciated, as were the perceptive
comments of my anonymous referees.
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... In order to find ways to become active citizens (Benton, 2008), planning requires that we put ourselves in the position of informed and empowered citizens rather than of mere consumers (Soma and Vatn, 2010). However, while planning processes are swathed in value judgements -what development is permitted, who should be involved in the decision-making process, what criteria should be given priority status in the decision (Davies, 2001) -the planning 'tradition' is silent on how these values are assessed in development plans (Hillier, 1999). ...
... However regional planning has its limits: at the individual level -the difficult transfer from environmental values to sustainable actions (Benton, 2008;Hards, 2011); at the community level -the weak conflict resolution linked with the hijacking of participatory outputs, the lack of communication and knowledge transfer (Olson, 1982;Tullock, 1993;Ostrom, 1990;Lawrence, 2000;Dietz and Stern, 2008); and at the governance level -the mismatch between the different levels of institutions that leads to inadequate governance of local problems (Max-Neef et al., 1989;Ostrom 1990Ostrom , 1996. This study seeks to address these weaknesses by implementing for the first time the Human-scale Development model in the elaboration of a needs-based sustainable planning scenario. ...
... One of the limitations of regional planning relates to the articulation between personal values and actions (Benton, 2008;Hards, 2011). This is because planning does not take people's values into account and until now, societal values have been deduced to feed the policy process (Davies, 2001). ...
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This study presents the first assessment of how an approach based on meeting fundamental human needs can assist regional planning. It uses the Human-scale Development methodology, based on fundamental human needs as a theoretical and methodological framework for scenario building. It offers a structured approach on how non-monetary values and practices (i.e. satisfiers or ways to satisfy needs) can help to open up the planning process, highlighting a regional conflict. The study presents three dimensions of needs to address planning challenges. The data is taken from a case study of a deliberative process for regional planning in Western Europe. The relevance lies in the ways we can learn from individual values and practices, that when shared with others, (1) help to diagnose behaviours and trends toward environmentalism; (2) foster listening and understanding of people's sameness and differences that reduce conflict; and (3) provide a structured tool which predicts society dynamics and develops integrated solutions that facilitate sustainable regional development.
... These everyday use and recreational value are in line with existing studies, namely, these preferences could be linked to the cultural and social functions provided by urban green spaces, which might contribute a healthy living environment for outdoor recreational and natural education opportunities and harmonious people-environment relationship [39]. Moreover, we realized that public preferences with the high-frequency daily use for nearby green space would facilitate engagement in the community, promote a local sense of belonging and social relations, conferring social and cultural connotations on green spaces, based on previous studies [40,41]. As a consequence, we believe that these preferences enhance people's desire and willingness to pay extra to live around the green space and affect local property decision making. ...
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Cultural greenway projects (CGPs) are widely regarded as an urban planning approach which connects open green spaces and sites of sociocultural value to provide access to living, working and recreational spaces and enhance local social well-being. This paper examines the impact of such CGPs on public living desire before and after a given project is completed through analyzing housing prices in the surrounding area. We deployed a hedonic pricing model (HPM) and differences in differences (DID) model to analyze and record any changes in housing market trends that may have been caused by such a cultural greenway project. Via analysis of single-family home sale transactions in central Beijing from 2013 to 2017, we found substantial evidence that proximity to a cultural greenway project is positively linked with rising property prices. Once complete, CGPs were similarly associated with positive increases per HPM and DID modeling. Our results revealed that the distance to greenway contributed significantly positive impact on the housing market after the cultural greenway project completed. Moreover, our result indicated that once a CGP was open to the public, it increased the price of properties within 1 km by 13.3%. Seller and buyer expectations of the development of local, green public infrastructure also began to factor into housing prices prior to the greenway opening to the public. Post-completion, the positive trend in property pricing due to local CGPs indicates that the public still have an increasing desire to live near the greenway. These results will help policymakers better understand how cultural greenways affect neighborhoods in high-density urban contexts, and will support the development of urban greenway policies for cities in China that reap the maximum economic benefit.
... His view is that rivers left unmodified do not ensure human right to water and they "neither provide safe water nor deliver water to households by themselves as they are not free from microbes". Benton argues that many human social practices both serve human purposes and provide a setting for environmental value, and he argues for a re-valuation of urban open space [33]. ...
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As often noted, water is one of the most critical natural resources in the world—one we must take care of so that future generations can enjoy safe water. This study specifically explores university-level water and environmental students’ views on perceived priorities on water. The recent debate on water policy and its complexity is first reviewed, followed by a study on how students perceived water through six predetermined criteria. Interactive learning events (n = 241) were arranged worldwide in 2011–2015 in seven countries and one region: Finland, Latvia, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Sri Lanka, USA, and Southern Africa region. The relative distribution of the criteria totaling 100% were as follows: Basic human right 31%, natural resource 25%, economic good 15%, public and social good both 11%, and cultural good 7%. The views did not substantially differentiate despite the different socio-economic conditions. Yet, basic human right should be interpreted wisely remembering environmental, economic, and other realities. Here, the target group consisted of water and environmental students, and it would be very interesting to conduct a comparative study among students in other fields (sociology, economics, etc.). On the whole, we should further analyze the value of water and its priorities to make it easier to manage water resources in the future.
... (1) provision of recreational areas, green areas, and parks for environmental and health concerns; (2) protection of agricultural lands and preservation for economic benefit; and/or (3) efficient urban layout and smart-growth policies towards the creation and maintenance of higher qualities of life (Freeman 2001;Arnberger and Haider 2005;Benton 2008). ...
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In Palestinian cities, urban parks are rare and their size is limited, comprising roughly 0.5 m2 per person in Palestine’s fastest growing city, Ramallah. Prior studies indicate that conventional planning, zoning, and standards-based approaches do not fully meet people’s needs for parks in urban settings. Hence, a needs-based approach was implemented in this study. A survey instrument was administered to a representative stratified sample composed of planners, professionals, and academics. The questionnaire was successfully administered to more than six hundred respondents (n= 650) and the results divulged a number of important points that will aid in future park and green space location, creation, and park utility. These findings included (a) overwhelming (perceived) need for more parks provided with facilities like playgrounds, water features, and relaxing areas; (b) a perception of uneven distribution of parks and facilities in urban settings; and (c) an increase in accessibility via roads and walking paths.
This part provides a general description of the abiotic conditions of the Baltic Sea, which gives the reader the basic background required for understanding the peculiarities of the system investigated. Being a microtidal brackish water system, large with respect to area and volume, but having just narrow connection to the adjacent ocean, pronounced, but relatively stable gradients in salinity are a unique feature making the Baltic something special. In addition, post-glacial history resulted in characteristic patterns of subsoil geology as well as prevailing coastal types, which are presented on a Baltic scale here before being treated in detail for the investigation area.
The marine and coastal ecosystems of the Baltic Sea are exposed to an intensification and diversification of anthropogenic activities and related environmental pressures. Human interest in marine resources and space often overlap with environmental protection objectives, causing conflicts. Research can assist capacity building to enable knowledge-based decision-making in marine management and policy to help solve these issues. Three participatory systematic maps were carried out on marine and coastal ecosystem services (ES), monetary and non-monetary valuation methods applied to value them, and the interrelation of ES and human health and well-being in the Baltic Sea region. Policy advisors were engaged throughout the review process. The aim was to map existing scientific knowledge and identify knowledge gaps for the scientific community and to support the implementation and update of the key marine protection policies in the region. This chapter introduces the review methodology, provides an overview of knowledge gaps and missing links in ES research, and addresses future steps to connect the dots.
After the comprehensive description of the ecosystem processes in Chap. 4, the following paragraphs are dedicated to the philosophical, social, and economic aspects of the Baltic human-environmental systems. While in Chap. 2 the foundations of these disciplines have been discussed, those basic ideas are deepened and applied in Chap. 5. The narrative starts with aspects from economics, introducing ecosystem services and approaches to characterize them, mainly from a behavioral science perspective. The next viewpoint is environmental ethics, which provides a reflective and grounding layer for the ecosystem service approach. Thereafter systems-based aspects are applied to human environmental entities in general and the study region as a special case, which is illuminated from a socio-economic viewpoint.
Environmental aesthetics (EA) extends appreciation beyond art to the natural environment through an engagement with and sensory immersion in the natural world that privileges its aesthetic value. The purpose of this article is to ascertain the extent to which EA can promote corporate sustainability. As management scholars have only just begun to address this issue, the article reviews both management and wider aesthetics and sustainability literatures. The review concludes that EA can promote corporate sustainability but only when it is qualified by insights from ecology and ethics. There are recommendations for managers to facilitate EA and for researchers to undertake empirical studies in this field.
Vast and pervasive environmental problems such as climate change and biodiversity loss call every individual to active stewardship. Their magnitude and causal and strategic structures, however, pose powerful challenges to our moral psychology. Stewardship may feel overburdening, and appear hopeless. This may lead to widespread moral and political disengagement. This article proposes a resolve to garden practices as a way out of that danger, and describes the ways in which it will motivate individuals to so act as to coordinate on behavioural patterns that will significantly alleviate grave, but seemingly distant and intractable environmental quandaries.
Individual lifestyles and practices play an important part in governmental strategies to improve environmental outcomes, both in the UK (DEFRA, 2008) and elsewhere. This often involves promoting actions deliberately aimed at reducing one’s environmental impact, or pro-environmental practices. However, our understanding of these practices has weaknesses; notably regarding the “Value-Action Gap” and the conditions promoting enduring change. This article explores how narrative methods could further our knowledge of pro-environmental practice. It illustrates the utility of the approach using the example of moments of sudden change, or “transformative moments”, in the lives of individuals who take action to address climate change. Drawing on three cases from an ongoing study, it uses narrative tools to explore the nature of these transformations, including the inter-related roles of context, information, emotions and relationships with other people. The discussion highlights tentative conclusions regarding these moments of sudden change, and offers suggestions for future research. Finally, it evaluates the utility of narrative approaches to pro-environmental practice, suggesting that despite some limitations, this method has significant potential to address unresolved issues in the field.
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I call for "postnaturalism" in environmental philosophy - for an environmental philosophy that no longer employs the concept nature. First, the term is too ambiguous and philosophically dangerous and, second, McKibben and others who argue that nature has already ended are probably right - except that perhaps nature has always already ended. Poststructuralism, environmental history, and recent science studies all point in the same direction: the world we inhabit is always already one transformed by human practices. Environmental questions are social and political ones, to be answered by us and not by nature. Many will worry that this conclusion leads to environmentally pernicious consequences, and to problems of relativism and idealism, but I argue that it does not. Practices are real, not ideal, and not all practices are equal: those that acknowledge human responsibility for transforming the world are preferable to those that don't. Environmental harm results when we do not recognize our own responsibility for the world our practices create.
Contributors to this edited book consider the normative issues at stake in the relationship between environmental sustainability and social justice. If future generations are owed justice, what should we bequeath them? Is ‘sustainability’ an appropriate medium for environmentalists to express their demands? Is environmental protection compatible with justice within generations? Is environmental sustainability a luxury when social peace has broken down? The contested nature of sustainable development is considered––is it a useful concept at all any longer? Is it reconcilable with capital accumulation? Liberal––particularly Rawlsian––and socialist notions of justice are tested against the demands of sustainability, and policy instruments for sustainability––such as environmental taxation––are examined for their distributive effects.
In this challenging book, Ted Benton takes recent debates about the moral status of animals as a basis for reviewing the discourse of 'human rights'. Liberal-individualist views of human rights and the advocates of animal rights tend to think of individuals, whether humans or animals, in isolation from their social position. This makes them vulnerable to criticisms from the left which emphasise the importance of social relationships to individual well-being. Benton's argument supports the important assumption, underpinning the cause for animal rights, that humans and other species of animal have much in common, both in the conditions for their well-being and their vulnerability and harm. Both liberal rights theory and it socialist critique fail adequately to theorize these aspects of human vulnerability. Nevertheless, it is argued that, enriched by feminist and ecological insights, a socialist view of rights has much to offer. Lucid and wide-ranging in its argument, Natural Relations enables the outline of an ecological socialist view of rights and justice to begin to take their shape.
Romanticism is recognized as a wellspring of modern-day environmental thought and enthusiasm for nature-preservation, but the character of the affinities between the two is less well understood. Essentially, the Romantics realised that nature only becomes a matter for ethical concern, inspiration and love when the mind and sensibility of the human observer/agent are properly attuned and receptive to its meaning. That attunement involves several factors: a more appropriate scientific paradigm, a subtler appreciation of the impact that the setting of human dwelling, especially landscape, may have on character; the discovery of 'life' and spontaneity as a motif in science and art; a deeper and more complex sense of time; and a feel for place drawn from the life-world rather than physics or economics. Romanticism invented a new language and set of descriptions to illuminate all of these things, one we neglect or forget at our peril.
The east end of London has seen the transformation of the Mile End Park and marks as one of the main beacon of making cities sustainable. The transformation took place between 1995 and 2000 headed by the Environment Trust under the Millennium Commission and partnered with Tower Hamlets Borough Council and the East London Partnership. It aimed for a different form, function and theme such that each section of the park has art, sport, play, ecology and fun. It also involved the local community in the design and implementation and therefore demonstrated new thinking about how a ark could work and be built for sustainability. One of the most notable feature of the park is the Green Bridge wherein it has been perfectly integrated into the landscape of the park and shields northern and southern stretches from the Mile End junction, blocking noise, fumes and visual ugliness. Re-landscaping was also conducted on the park and is now beginning to settle and mature. Thanks to the commercial assets incorporated into the original project, the park is also partially self-reliant in financial terms: about a third of basic running costs are met by rents from the commercial premises under the Green Bridge and from center premises in the park. The park is also an invaluable educational resource for improving ecological literacy for use in other city planning projects and development.