Urban ecological citizenship

Journal of Social Philosophy 34 (1):44–63 (2003)
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There are many ways to describe cities. As a physical environment, more so than many other environments, they are at least an extension of our present intentions. But cities are not confined to the moment. Built spaces are also in conversation with the past and oriented toward the future as physical manifestations of our values and priorities. But even with all of the ways we have to describe cities we do not normally think of them as in any way akin to the “natural” environment. City and country, nature and culture, are opposed. We move through cities differently, with a different set of values, whether articulated or not. Consider just one small example: Even the most jaded urban dweller may hesitate to sully the environment around him when he perceives it to be something other than a product of the human community. Though we have all seen trash in a national park, we suspect (or at least hope) that there is a kind of hesitancy that occurs with a person wondering what to do with her candy wrappers on a trail in Yosemite. On the other hand, a visitor to my home, Greenwich Village, will usually not think twice about tossing his cigarette butts on the ground as he walks toward his next destination.



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Andrew Light
George Mason University

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