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Eaton, Marcia Muelder, , . A Sustainable Definition of “Art”
2000, in Theories of Art Today, ed. by Noel Carroll (London: The University of Wisconsin Press)
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Content: Eaton begins with some remarks on the practical need for classification of art and proceeds to present and improve her definition. Her focus is not on specific properties of artworks, but on the fact that they possess properties which within a given culture are considered worth attending to. The modifications made to the theory follow a realisation of Western-centric bias embedded in the original formulation, and the discussion explicitly aims to work towards a definition which acknowledges the cultural differences in art production and appreciation. Eaton moves on to discuss Danto’s and Cohen’s claims that art cannot be defined and points out some Western-centric aspects of their arguments. The paper ends with an overview of what it is for art and its definition to be sustainable.

Comment: Western-centric bias in art classification is explicitly addressed in the article and efforts are made to account for the cultural variations in attitudes to and classification of art. This can offer a powerful motivation for the students to seek similar biases in other definitions and ask whether they entail a preferential treatment of Western art.

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Sarkar, Sahotra, , . Environmental Philosophy: From Theory to Practice
2012, Wiley-Blackwell.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Rose Trappes

Publisher’s Note: The first comprehensive treatment of environmental philosophy, going beyond ethics to address the philosophical concepts that underlie environmental thinking and policy-making today

  • Encompasses all of environmental philosophy, including conservation biology, restoration ecology, sustainability, environmental justice, and more
  • Offers the first treatment of decision theory in an environmental philosophy text
  • Explores the conceptions of nature and ethical presuppositions that underlie contemporary environmental debates, and, moving from theory to practice, shows how decision theory translates to public policy
  • Addresses both hot-button issues, including population and immigration reform, and such ongoing issues as historical legacies and nations’ responsibility and obligation for environmental problems
  • Anchors philosophical concepts to their practical applications, establishing the priority of the discipline’s real-world importance

Comment: This book provides a clear and comprehensive introduction to major philosophical issues in environmental science, ethics and policy. There are handy ‘boxes’ with examples to illustrate the text. Chapters are fairly short and can be a bit dense, but they are good as overviews of the major issues when paired with related but more specific texts. It’s also sensitive to indigenous and racial issues when it comes to conservation.

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