1. A New Threat to Wilderness — SpaceX’s Starlink [my op-ed for the Arizona Daily Star can be found here]
SpaceX is in the process of developing Starlink, a system of satellites that promises to provide high-speed internet to every inch of the globe. Despite its many merits, I argue that this program poses a very literal threat to the existence of federally-designated wilderness. It does so by jeopardizing one of the defining features of wilderness—that such places provide “outstanding opportunities for solitude”—as spelled out in The Wilderness Act (1964). In light of this, I point towards both legislative and practical solutions to the problem posed by Starlink and suggest, more generally, that we reconsider what wilderness preservation should look like in the 21st Century.
2. No Intrinsic Value? No Problem: Why Nature Can Still Be Valuable for Its Own Sake (2020) Environmental Ethics
Heirlooms and memorabilia are sometimes thought to be valuable for their own sakes even if they lack intrinsic value. They can have extrinsic final value, meaning that they can be valuable for their own sakes on account of their relation to other things. Yet if heirlooms and memorabilia can have this sort of value, then perhaps so can natural entities. If correct, this idea secures the claim that nature is valuable for its own sake without requiring that it have a normative property just in itself. Additionally, it does not commit one to the contentious view that natural entities have a more foundational value than that of persons or sentient beings. It remains to be shown, though, how, precisely, natural entities can have this sort of value. At least one such way is if the given natural entity is related to something else that people are justified in valuing in a partly passive manner. This account then sheds light on the values present in a world increasingly affected by humans
A number of writers argue that objects can be valuable for their own sakes on account of their extrinsic features. No one has offered an account, though, that shows exactly how or why objects have this sort of value. I seek to provide such an account. I suggest that an object can have final value on account of its relation to someone one loves or admires, where it is one’s warranted love or admiration for the person that renders the related object valuable for its own sake. I identify a feature of love and admiration that shows exactly why this is the case. I then end by suggesting how this account locates a reason to value non-intrinsically good things for their own sakes that avoids a “wrong reason” objection facing alternative views.
4. Aesthetic and Historical Values – Their Difference and Why It Matters (2020) Environmental Values
Aesthetic and historical values are commonly distinguished from each other. Yet there has not been sustained discussion of what, precisely, differs between them. In fact, recent scholarship has focused on various ways in which the two are related. I argue, though, that historical value can differ in an interesting way from aesthetic value and that this difference may have significant implications for environmental preservation. In valuing something for its historical significance, it need not always be the case that there is a reason to want people to experience the entity. Valuing something for its aesthetic merit, by contrast, does imply a reason to want people to experience the entity. I suggest that in virtue of this difference, some historical values may offer better justification for preserving natural environments than do aesthetic considerations.
5. The Good, the Beautiful, the Green: Environmentalism and Aesthetics (special issue) The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 76: 4. Guest editor with Sandra Shapshay.
6. Introduction (w Sandra Shapshay) The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 76: 4.