Contrasting Methods of Environmental Planning
In planning the conduct of his affairs in relation to nature, man is faced with many problems which are so complex and so intermeshed that it is hard to say at first even what kind of problems they are. We are all familiar with the distinction between factual and evaluative questions, and I do not doubt that there is this distinction; but the actual problems with which we are faced are always an amalgam of these two kinds of question. The various methods used by environmental planners are all attempts to separate out this amalgam, as we have to do if we are ever to understand the problems — let alone solve them. I wish in this lecture to give examples of, and appraise, two such methods. I shall draw from this appraisal not only theoretical lessons which may interest the moral philosopher, but also practical lessons which, I am sure, those who try to plan our environment ought to absorb. Though my examples come mostly from urban planning, because that is the kind of planning with whose problems (although only an amateur) I am most familiar, what I have to say will apply also to problems about the countryside. Whether we have to deal with the human nature of the man in the congested street, or the nature of the nature reserves or of the areas of outstanding natural beauty, the word ‘nature’ may bear slightly different senses, but the problem is still the same: to ascertain the facts about this nature, and then to think how we should conduct ourselves in order to make things better, or at any rate not worse, than they would otherwise be.
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