Skip to Main Content


The IU Bloomington Libraries' Philosophy collection supports research and teaching in all branches of philosophy.


Philosophers have long pondered the natural world, but with the threat of climate change,Image of Earth concerns about environmentalism are more significant than ever. This feature covers the fields of environmental ethics and aesthetics.

Read on to learn more about these fields and find resources for further study.

And remember to celebrate Earth Day on April 22!

Next Steps
If you'd like to explore more thematic content relevant to climate change, environmental justice, and nature, check out the Environmental Justice & Earth Day feature at the Media Studies Research Guide, which includes music, novels, feature films, and documentaries on these topics.

Environmental Ethics

The field of environmental ethics considers what our responsibilities are for protecting the environment and natural resources.

Examples of questions that philosophers in this field think about are:

  • Should humans continue to manufacture gasoline-powered vehicles?
  • Is it ethical for humans to cause the extinction of a species for the convenience of humanity?
  • Is it morally permissible to cull feral animals to protect an ecosystem?
  • Does the natural environment and its contents hold moral status?

Butler, W. F. and Acott, T. G. (2007). "An inquiry concerning the acceptance of intrinsic value theories of nature." Environmental Values 12(2): 149-168.

Ferré, F. (1996). "Persons in Nature: Toward and Applicable and Unified Environmental Ethics." Ethics and the Environment 1: 15-25.

Ladkin, D. (2005). "Does 'Restoration' Necessarily Imply the Domination of Nature?" Environmental Values 14: 203-19.

Bioethics Literature Database

"Environmental Ethics" by Ben A. Minteer (

"Environmental Ethics" (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)


Environmental Aesthetics

The field of environmental aesthetics investigates the essence and appreciation of natural beauty.

Examples of questions that philosophers in this field think about are:

  • What is the aesthetic significance of the natural world?
  • What is the relationship between environmental aesthetics and environmental ethics?
  • Is scientific knowledge necessary to an aesthetic appreciation of nature?
  • What are the proper objects and modes of appreciating natural beauty?

Bannon, B. E. (2011). "Re-Envisioning Nature: The Role of Aesthetics in Environmental Ethics." Environmental Ethics 33: 415-436.

Brady, E. (2014). "Aesthetic Value, Ethics and Climate Change." Environmental Values 23: 551-70.

Matthews, P. (2002). "Scientific Knowledge and the Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature." Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 60: 37-48.

Paden, R., Harmon, L. K., and Milling, C. R. (2012). "Ecology, Evolution, and Aesthetics: Towards an Evolutionary Aesthetics of Nature." British Journal of Aesthetics 52: 124-139.

"Environmental Aesthetics" (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

"Environmental aesthetics" (Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy)