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Ishtiyaque Haji, Stefaan E. Cuypers, Yannick Joye

The Journal of Aesthetic Education, Volume 47, Number 3, Fall 2013,

pp. 1-23 (Article)
DOI: 10.1353/jae.2013.0018

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Architecture, Ethical Perception,

and Educating for Moral Responsibility
Architecture has a marked influence on ethical perception. Ethical perception, in turn, has a pronounced influence on what we are morally responsible for, our decisions, choices, intentional omissions, and overt actions, for
instance. It thus stands to reason that architecture bears saliently on moral
responsibility. If we now introduce a widely accepted premise that one of
the fundamental aims of education is to see that our children turn into morally responsible agents, we can further infer that architecture has an influence on educating for moral responsibility. Our primary aims in this paper
are, first, to uncover associations between architecture and ethical perception, on the one hand, and moral responsibility, on the other, that we believe
are significant, and, second, to begin to show how these associations are
connected with educating for responsibility.
Ishtiyaque Haji, professor of philosophy at the University of Calgary, is the author
of articles in metaphysics, ethics, and action theory; and of the books Moral Appraisability (1998), Deontic Morality and Control (2002), Moral Responsibility, Authenticity,
and Education (2008, coauthored with S. Cuypers), Incompatibilisms Allure (2009), and
Freedom and Value (2009).
Stefaan E. Cuypers is professor of philosophy at the Catholic University of Leuven,
Belgium. He works in philosophy of mind and philosophy of education. His research
interests are autonomy, moral responsibility, and R. S. Peters. He is the author of SelfIdentity and Personal Autonomy (2001); the coauthor, together with Ishtiyaque Haji,
of Moral Responsibility, Authenticity, and Education (2008); the coeditor, together with
Christopher Martin, of Reading R. S. Peters Today: Analysis, Ethics and the Aims of Education (2011); and an invited contributor to The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Education (2009), edited by Harvey Siegel.
Yannick Joye (PhD, University of Ghent, 2007) currently works as a full-time postdoctoral researcher at the Research Centre for Marketing and Consumer Science, University of Leuven. He is mainly involved in research on (evolutionary) environmental
aesthetics and in empirical environmental psychology research. Dr. Joye has published in Environment and Planning B, Review of General Psychology, and Environmental
Values, among others.
Journal of Aesthetic Education, Vol. 47, No. 3, Fall 2013
2013 Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois

2Haji, Cuypers, and Joye

The paper unfolds in this way: We first outline an Aristotelian account
of moral perception according to which an agent is responsible for how
she morally perceives her situation (section 1). We then discuss the impact
of architectural design and lifestyles on ethical perception (section 2). Finally, we argue for the close connection between architecture and moral
responsibilityespecially responsibilitys agency requirementagainst the
backdrop of our Aristotelian account of moral perception. Appreciating this
connection is key to understanding architectures influence on educating for
moral responsibility (section 3).

1. An Aristotelian Account of Moral Perception

We begin with an outline of what ethical perception is. We fix on the concept,
first, by giving examples of perceiving that count, or that many have taken
to count, as central instances of ethical perception and, second, focusing on
elements of an Aristotelian view of such perception, as these elements are of
central importance in what follows.
Perceptions of moral right and wrong are taken to qualify as ethical
perceptions. In a famous example that Gilbert Harman discusses, a person
comes around a corner and sees a group of young hoodlums pour gasoline on a cat and ignite it. Harman writes, [Y]ou do not need to conclude
that what ... [the hoodlums] are doing is wrong; you do not need to figure
anything out. You can see that it is wrong.1 Commenting on this example,
Charles Starkey remarks that the wrongness
strikes us immediately and verisimilarly, in the same manner as our
other perceptions. We use normative concepts of rightness and wrongness in our recognition of situations just as we use non-normative concepts in such recognition. In this way it seems more like a perception
and less like a judgment or deliberate inference that torturing the cat
is wrong.2
We may supplement Starkeys observation with the Aristotelian point that
an individual who is properly morally trained should recognize or perceive
that the act of torturing the hapless cat is morally wrong; by virtue of his
deficient moral training, one of the hoodlums may not see the act as wrong.
A perception that another person is in need of, for instance, sympathy or
help qualifies as a moral perception. Beth Dixon presents us with the following illustrative case:
[I]f I see a long line of people waiting to be admitted to a housing
shelter for the night I might form the belief that they are all drug addicts, criminals, or lacking in initiative. Construing the situation in
this particular way may prevent me from acknowledging that those
who need housing may deserve my sympathy and help. Indeed focus-

Architecture, Ethical Perception, and Educating for Moral Responsibility3

ing on how unkempt they appear may obscure the fact that there are
children and their mothers waiting in line to stay somewhere for the
night. There may be more than one way of describing what matters
ethically in a situation, and these different descriptions of a scene may
contain equally compelling but competing ethical considerations.3
As Dixon suggests, moral perception may also involve distorted self-perception, for instance, in cases in which one sees oneself as kind or generous
when one is really acting to satisfy ones apt, unconscious self-interested
Starkey presents us with another revealing illustration of ethical perception he finds in Iris Murdochs The Sovereignty of Good.4 He claims that
Murdoch regards ethical perception as the compassionate perception of
someone as she really is. In Murdochs example, we are to consider the
change in perception of a woman who initially sees her daughter-in-law as
pert and familiar, insufficiently ceremonious, brusque, sometimes positively rude, always tiresomely juvenile. The woman is capable of self-criticism and giving careful and just attention to an object [for example, the
daughter-in-law] which confronts her.5 In directing such attention to her
daughter-in-law, the woman comes to question her initial attitudes toward
her. Starkey claims that, consequently, the womans vision of her daughterin-law changes: as Murdoch remarks, the woman is seen as not vulgar
but refreshingly simple, not undignified but spontaneous, not noisy but
gay, not tiresomely juvenile but delightfully youthful.6 Starkey adds that
empathetic perception can be placed in the same camp as sympathetic
perception ... because the goal of both is a point of view that is charitable
toward another person.7
A taxing philosophical exercise is to start with what appear to be such uncontroversial examples of ethical perception and then tease out from them,
or construct, an analysis of such perception that, among other things, would
distinguish ethical perception from nonethical perception.8 Fortunately, for
our purposes, we do not have to defend an analysis of somethings being an
ethical perception. Instead, we pay particular attention, first, to some elements
of an Aristotelian account of moral perception and, then, say some general
things about the relevant features of a person who has developed her capacity of such perception.
According to Aristotle, deciding how to act morally or virtuously in a
certain situation is secondary to perceiving, reading the morally salient features of, or, as we shall say, morally framing the situation. In this sense,
we do not see what is uninterpreted or given in the situation. What and
how an agent sees, particularly, what and how an agent perceives as morally significant, is vitally informed by how she characterizes the situation.
As Nancy Sherman remarks, according to Aristotle, Perception is informed
by the virtues since the agent is responsible for how the situation appears

4Haji, Cuypers, and Joye

as well as for omissions and distortions.9 Recall, again, Dixons example:
you see the long line of people waiting to be admitted to the shelter for the
night. Focusing on their ragged clothing or their unkempt appearance, you
might take them to be drug addicts, criminals or simply losers of society
who are out for a handout. You may, thus, lose sight of the fact that there are
needy children and their mothers in the line deserving of refuge from the
freezing night. Dixon comments that the different ways of morally framing
or reading a situation do not interfere with Aristotles primary point: there
are some ways of perceiving, reading, or construing the situation that are
more appropriate ethically than others.10
Aristotle also claims that we can develop our expertise in our moral reading of a situationin ethical perception. Becoming attuned or sensitive to
perceiving in this way is partly up to usit is something within our control.
To elaborate, growing to be adept in ethical perception can be understood
more or less in the same way as acquiring and developing the moral virtues. Like turning out to be virtuous, ethical perception is a skill acquired
through practice, habituation, and by reflection and attention to the agents
many direct experiences.11 In the Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle proposes
that just as we are responsible for developing excellence of moral character,12
so we are responsible for how things appear to us:
Someone might say that everyone aims at the apparent good, but does
not control its appearance; but the end appears to each person in a
way that corresponds to his character. For if each person is somehow
responsible for his own state of character, he will also be himself somehow responsible for its [that is, the ends] appearance [phantasias].13
Bringing these Aristotelian elements together, what we perceivehow
we morally frame the situationis partly up to us. This, in turn, supports
the Aristotelian contention that the choices or options in a situation that appear morally significant to us are partly up to us. We can only choose among
what we see. We cannot, for instance, decide whether to help someone unless we notice she is in need, and we perceive that, because she is in need,
she ought to be helped. In this way, in practical reasoning, how we perceive
the situation has priority over what we decide or what choices we make. For
what we decide depends crucially on what choices appear salient to us, and
what choices appear salient to us depends on how we morally frame the
Furthermore, the capacity of ethical perception is not the kind of capacity
that occurs automatically or naturally; rather, it must be acquired. And like
becoming virtuous, becoming adept at ethical perception is something that
is acquired through practice (some educational), habituation, and reflection
on our direct experiences. Since our capacity of ethical perceptionhow we
morally frame a situationis acquired through such means or processes, it

Architecture, Ethical Perception, and Educating for Moral Responsibility5

is partly in our control. In virtue of being partly up to us, just as each person is in some measure morally (and not merely causally) responsible for
acquiring the virtues (or vices), so each person is partly morally responsible
for becoming adept at perceiving the situation in an ethically appropriate
way. The responsibility, here, will be indirect. You are indirectly responsible
for something if you are responsible for it by way of being responsible for
something else. You are directly responsible for something if you are responsible for it but not indirectly so. So, for instance, if you are responsible
(to a certain degree) for becoming generous, you are indirectly so: you are
(directly) responsible for, say, past decisions as a result of the execution of
which you become, over time, generous. Similarly, if you are responsible for
becoming attuned to perceiving salient moral properties of a situation or of
persons in the situation, you will be indirectly so. Finally, what we will be
morally responsible forthe very decisions or choices, for instance, which
we makedepends on ethical perception, on the plausible Aristotelian picture that what choices or decisions we make in a situation is largely contingent upon what appears salient to us in that situation.
Acquiring and developing the capacity for ethical perception, like acquiring the virtues, are to a considerable extent social processes or, more specifically, educational ones. As Sherman emphasizes, according to Aristotle, the
training and habituation pronouncedly takes place in the family:
The stable attachment between parents and child facilitates the parents
role as [moral] educator in several ways. The pre-eminence of parents
in the childs life makes them ready-to-hand models for emulation, as
well as attentive judges of the childs specific needs and requirements.
The childs acknowledgement of the parents love and trust engenders
a willingness to learn from them and a readiness to comply.14
Aristotle proposes that proper moral training is not so much a public issue or a matter for experts as it is a family concern. Like acquiring virtues,
moral perception requires favourable circumstances for acquisitiona
good family, good birth, reasonable opportunities, and means for emotion
and action.15
These Aristotelian elements strongly suggest that ethical perception is
not all or nothing; some people are more adept at ethical perception than
others, because ethical perception can be thought of as analogous to a skill or
capacity that has to be cultivated or acquired. Some people are more adept
at this skill than others or better morally trained than others or simply more
fortunate. This, in turn, calls to mind the following way of thinking about
ethical perception. Ethical perception is perception in which the agent perceives her situation in the way or ways in which a person who is properly
trained to become a morally sensitive agent would perceive or be disposed
to perceive her situation. An ideally morally sensitive person, would, for

6Haji, Cuypers, and Joye

instance, perceive the hoodlums igniting the cat as wrong; be sensitive to
the fact that some of those in line for the shelter are, through no fault of their
own, genuinely needy persons; perceive that the child who is in need and
requires reassurance is in need or requires assurance and, moreover, that
the child morally ought to be helped; empathize with a mother who has just
learned of the death of her first born; fail to have perceptions that involve
distorted self-perception, and so on. Agents like us who are less than ideally morally sensitive agents would, in pertinent circumstances, have some
but not all of the ethical perceptions that an ideally morally sensitive agent
would have in those sorts of circumstance.
In this way, as Aristotle believed, ethical perceptions are partially constitutive of our moral nature. Their being so partly explains why what we perceive is perceived as interpreted. If we have been fortunate to be exposed
to the right moral education and training and we are mentally healthy, much
of what we perceive will be perceived through moral lenses. The morally
salient features of our circumstances or morally salient options will present
themselves to us in our perceptions. Our ethical perception being part of
our moral nature also explains why we cannot under most (if not all) circumstances perceive at will; we cannot thwart our natures.
Finally, on the Aristotelian account, agent-environment influence is mutual: the agent contributes much from the insideher understanding of
moral concepts, for exampleto framing or interpreting her situation. But
on Aristotles view, the agents relevant environment will also have a great
deal to do in shaping the very cognitive or perceptual machinery that the
agent brings to bear in interpreting her environment.
In the ensuing discussion, what is particularly significant for our purposes is that others or other factors besides the agent can vitally influence
how or whether the agent becomes adept at ethical perception or how the
agent perceives (ethically) his situation. Again, comparison with the moral
virtues will be helpful. Regarding acquisition of these virtues, if a child is
not properly trained or habituated, the child will not be appropriately sensitive to considerations of, for instance, generosity and, consequently, may
not come to acquire the virtue of being generous. Similarly, if a child is not
exposed to apposite ways of ethically reading a situation, she may simply
regard the distraught woman waiting to be admitted into a housing shelter
as a failure of society rather than as a desperate mother.

2. Architectures Influence on Ethical Perception

We may broaden the definition of architecture from one that looks only
at individual structuresbuildings, bridges, or memorials, for exampleto
one that encompasses entire neighborhoods, including informal settlements,
village communities, and open public spaces.16 As we understand this broad

Architecture, Ethical Perception, and Educating for Moral Responsibility7

definition, the extension of architecture includes urban design, landscape
design, and even design (as we will explain) more generally. Our central
aim is to show that among the cluster of factors that have a salient bearing
on ethical perception is architecture in the broad sense. Given the association we have exposed between ethical perception and responsibility for our
conduct, architecture, thus, influences what we are morally responsible for.
Our central claimarchitectures salient bearing on ethical perception
is to a considerable extent an empirical, causal one. We note two important
points about this claim. First, we are well aware that, within architecture
and urban planning, there has been a long-running debate about the extent
to which the form of the physical environment does or can affect human
behavior. Many architects, urban planners, and urban designersperhaps
because of their background, their discipline, or bothare prone to presume
that the design of the physical environment can have a strong, determinant
effect on human behavior.17 But many sociologists and social psychologists
are critical of such claims, arguing instead that the main determinants of
human behavior are social and cultural. We confess to being drawn to the
position of the former. In this section, appealing to recent empirical studies
in architectural and environmental psychology, we adduce support for our
claim that architecture influences ethical perception and behavior. We believe there is sufficient empirical evidence to sustain the plausibility of our
central claim, thus, making it worthy of further investigation.
Second, we propose only that architecture (in the broad sense) is among
the cluster of causal factors that influence ethical perception. Architecture
is one contributing factor, in addition to biological constitution, educational
training, and social context. Yet, our claim is that architecture is a significant
and relatively neglected causal factor. Its impact is not one of strict determination but of augmented probability. Architectures contribution to ethical
perception that the phrases having a salient bearing on and influence
on capture can be understood counterfactually as follows. The capacity for
morally framing or reading a situation would be less developed were architectures impact absent. Or, more or less equivalently, moral perception
would be less attentive or visionary if architecture were not among such perceptions pertinent cluster of causal factors. So, although architecture does
not necessitate, it certainly inclines to (or disposes one to) moral perception.
It is clear that architecture develops human habitat. It is also clear that
it can develop an enhanced and sustainable physical environment as well
as an enhanced and sustainable social environment. The significance of a
liveable physical environment on ethical perception is elementary and noncontroversial: briefly, successful moral development presupposes having a
habitat that supplies people with, minimally, the basic necessities of life. We
restrict discussion, instead, on architectures impact on ethical perception
via its impact on the social environment. We pay particular attention to the

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possibility of architectures embodying, codifying, or manifesting (as
we shall say) values.

2.1 Preliminary Observations

Starting with some preliminaries, architecture can create habitable spaces,
including spaces that facilitate quiet retreat and reflection or that encourage
social interaction and dialogue, in which people feel free and safe to interact
with one another. Spaces conducive to these activities can foster ethical perception that, we remind ourselves, is a skill acquired through (educational)
practice, habituation, and reflection and attention to ones many direct experiences. Free and safe environments that are friendly to interaction and
that nourish a plurality of views, including a plurality of lifestyles, such as
the Houses of Parliament, facilitate the sort of practice and habituation that
are required for the development of ethical perception. Spaces particularly
suited for quiet contemplation, such as, possibly, a Japanese garden, provide
a venue for reflection on ones direct experiences.
Our moods and emotions color the lensesincluding moral lenses
through which we see the world. Our surrounding environments, and by
extension also architecture, can have a nonnegligible influence on mood and
emotion and, given the possibility of the emotional coloring of the moral
lenses, also on moral perception. This is true not only with individual structures but with, for instance, entire layouts of a community or with landscapes. Rural housing, for example, can be designed in a fashion that simply
accentuates the poverty of the community or, alternatively, that gives the
community hope for a better future. Sensitivity to local needs, such as an
understanding of the terrain and an appreciation of indigenous materials
that have been well tried over the passage of time, may aid designers to
construct individual housing, schools, or a working environment that has a
direct impact on personal well-being. Natural materials, frequently used in
vernacular architecture or building, can have wholesome physiological and
psychological effects.18 This, in turn, can positively elevate ones mood and,
in doing so, inspire one to work toward a better life not only for oneself but
for others in the community. Witness, for example, Louis Kahns research
building, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California,
which elevates the creative spirit of scientists by embracing the landscape,
contrasting architectural volumes and empty spaces, and featuring pools, a
narrow canal, and breath-taking sea views.
Studies in environmental psychology support the empirical claim that
our surrounding environments positively influence our moods and emotions. Of particular relevance here is that there is mounting evidence that
certain types of environmentfor example, parks and gardenshave a
so-called restorative potential for human individuals. In particular, when
individuals feel emotionally and cognitively depleted, contact with restor-

Architecture, Ethical Perception, and Educating for Moral Responsibility9

ative environments can have a beneficial influence on their mood and can
also revitalize cognitive functioning.19 Since such so-called fascinating environments can be attended to fairly effortlessly, they exert little pressure
on cognitive resources, allowing depleted cognitive capacities to recuperate. To date, research has mainly demonstrated the superior restorative potential of natural environments over urban ones. A possible explanation for
this divergent restorative potential is that the urban environments to which
respondents are exposed are often banal. Indeed, when fascinating and
carefully built architectural environments or structures, such as museums
and monasteries, are considered in restorative-environments research, it
turns out that they, too, can have significant restorative effects.20 In practice,
the findings from restorative-environments research are mainly applied in
the evidence-based design of healthcare settings.21
The relentless tendency to urbanization has created entire slum or shanty
towns in many parts of the world. The dampening effect of slum environments on mood and hope is something with which we can readily identify. Consider, for instance, the Bijlmermeer social housing in Amsterdam,
the Netherlands, a complex consisting of several, nearly identical high-rise
buildings designed specifically to house thousands of people. Its monotonic
construction and out-of-town location are invitations for depression and
ghettoization. In such large-scale public-housing milieus, crime, violence,
and aggression are of daily concern to the population. Research shows, however, that certain design or planning interventions that make such environments livelier can have a mitigating effect on aggression and crime rates.
Kuo and Sullivan, for instance, determined the extent of aggression and
violence for 145 inner-city public-housing constructions (the Robert Taylor
Homes in Chicago) and reported that residents surrounded by higher degrees of naturethat is, more greeneryare less aggressive and violent
than those living in more or less barren landscapes.22 Lack of opportunity
for experiencing the restorative potential of contact with nature is also found
to correlate with an increased use of antidepressants, which is consistent
with the view that built environments that are stark incite depression.23
Even these preliminary forays into architectures influence on the social
environment disclose the almost inextricable association between architecture, value, and moral perception. We use value broadly to include,
among other things, moral ideals, normative standards, judgments of various sorts of moral appraisal (such as those of right and wrong, blameworthiness and praiseworthiness, and goodness and badness) and the virtues.
Furthermore, we use design in an extended sense to cover not only the architectural sense of design but also to what may be labelled the lifestyle
sensea sense that pertains, for example, to dress, in-house decoration,
food, drink, and ritual. Design, in this wide sense, is involved, for instance,
in the m
anagement of both public and private spaces and the enactment

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of lifestyles. Managing the former raises questions such as whether spaces
ought (morally) to be created that promote or encourage dialogue among
people from all walks of life, while managing the latter requires addressing
issues such as whether the design of a community should be open to accommodating many different lifestyles.
Our discussion of architecture and value divides into two primary segments: First, how does architecture embody values, or, alternatively, what
are the modes of value embodiment? Second, how do these values influence
ethical perception? With the latter, we address, initially, architectures influence on the ethical perception of people in general and, second, and perhaps
more importantly, its influence on the ethical perception of children.

2.2 Architecture and the Embodiment of Values

The view that architecture can embody or manifest values is widely accepted.24 An architectural genre, or, more generally, a style of design, may embody or exude a spirit of free, open cooperativeness or dictatorial command.
Contrast, for example, Joseph Paxtons Crystal Palace at the 1851 Worlds Fair
in London with Albert Speers German Pavilion at the 1937 Worlds Fair in
Paris. The former emanates constructiveness and transparency, whereas the
latter sterile pageantry and subordinating pomposity. Reflection on an experiment by Maass and colleagues, indicating that different architectural styles
have a differential punishing character, is revealing.25 The experimenters
asked subjects to imagine attending a trial of a wrongly accused friend and
to estimate the likelihood of conviction based on jurors viewing the courthouse. Surprisingly, the subjects deemed the likelihood of conviction higher
when asked to envision the trial occurring in a modern, high-style courthouse
than in a medieval one. The former sort of courthouse was also characterized
as more intimidating than the latter, despite the fact that aesthetically both
courthouses were equally appreciated. Nasar and Kang document that some
houses are perceived as more friendly than others, serving to confirm the association of certain values with building styles (and, possibly, materials).26
In addition, Devlin shows that people judge that they will receive variable
degrees of care from medical facilities on the basis of their perception of the
differing facades of the buildings that constitute these facilities.27
An architectural style can incorporate a vision of subduing or conquering
nature, or it can celebrate the constructed world as being properly an extension of nature. Frank Lloyd Wrights Falling Water, for example, harmonizes
with its natural rocky and wooded site. Philip Johnsons Glass House seamlessly unites with its natural environment. If an instance or genre of architecture serves to preserve or make salient certain valuesand there is nothing
to preclude these values from being germane to ethical perception (as we
explain below)the past can be preserved or protected by emulating it. In
the forward-looking direction, in contrast, we can think of architecture as

Architecture, Ethical Perception, and Educating for Moral Responsibility11

a means of encoding such things as ideals or what is worthy of being emulated or pursued.
How, precisely, however, does architecture embody values? First, there
is the literal inscription of values. Many of the distinctive Islamic architectural marks in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and Spain, for example, are adorned
with Quranic script, much of which champions various values. Second, the
pictorial stories as portrayed, for instance, in the stained-glass panels of
various churches, are moral fables. Third, the story or event that motivated
erection of some structure, itself made plain by the structure or, for instance,
recorded in a placard by the structure, reminds us of pertinent values. Here,
symbolism is frequently of fundamental importance: the symbolic aspects
of the built environment can draw attention to, for example, concern about
civilized values and social security. The Taj Mahal, a spectacular architectural legacy of the Mughals, is one of the most admired buildings of all time.
It is a powerful expression of love, beauty, and perhaps grief. Sometimes, as
Nelson Goodman proposes, the symbolism can be indirect. For instance, if
a church represents sailboats, and sailboats exemplify freedom from earth,
and freedom from earth in turn exemplifies spirituality, then the church refers to spirituality via a three-link chain.28
Fourth, the construction itself or the material used can codify values.
The black granite face of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial with its 58,132 inscribed names, for example, is a commemorative structure that calls to mind
a multiplicity of values, including bravery, sacrificing for a good cause (as
some may see it), or the need to hold our political leaders accountable for decisions that may jeopardize the lives of thousands. As remarked previously,
because they trigger distinct physiological and psychological processes, materials can create a sense of warmth and convey the value of affiliation. Also,
from their judgment of the use of particular materials in the construction of
buildings, people tend to project values onto the inhabitants of those buildings. Dwellers of buildings constructed from concrete blocks, for example,
are perceived as colder in their interpersonal style than, for example,
those of houses constructed from weathered wood.29
Soft, rounded edges (characteristic of, for example, Antoni Gauds structures), as opposed to sharply angular ones, can convey the value of gentleness. Experiments confirm that curved objects are preferred to their sharpangled counterparts.30 Soft, rounded shapes are also conducive to feelings of
affiliation. Sharp angles, in contrast, are associated with more antagonistic
feelings.31 Recent brain research, consistent with these findings, attests that
sharp-angled shapes activate regions in the brain (the amygdala) responsible for responses such as fear and anxiety.32 All these empirical results cohere with the intuition of some architects that the broken forms of certain
modern architectural styles (for example, deconstructivism) are inherently
stressful and generate fear.33

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Finally, the very layout of a city, town, or community can signal values
of different sorts. Consider the finding that open versus closed environmental configurations are associated with, respectively, feelings of safety
and feelings of threat.34 A highly symmetric grid structure can exude a sense
of uniformity or order or both; a wall that is deliberately erected on the borders between two nations (for instance, the wall formerly between East and
West Berlin) projects a powerful image of irreconcilable difference. We do
not, of course, take this list to be exhaustive. There are, presumably, multiple
ways in which architecture can embody values.

2.3. Modes of Embodying Value and Ethical Perception

How do these different modes of embodying value affect or influence ethical
perception? The impact of the built environment on us is immediate, however attuned we may be to this impact, and for the most part permanent;
we cannot reasonably expect the Chase Manhattan Bank to disappear if it
is along our route to work or to find Istanbul shorn of the Blue Mosque.
This permanence habituates us toor even confronts us withthe values
encoded in relevant structures, or at least, we are reminded (perhaps sometimes to our discomfort) of these values. An ethically sensitive person will
be disposed to be affected by these values; she will tune in to these values.
Here, the effect of value embodiment in architecture on ethical perception is
importantly one of triggering relevant perception: if there is to be ethical
perception, there must be values of the appropriate sort to be perceived in
the first place.
Empirical research credibly indicates that the built environment implicates values and norms that affect us. A tidy streetscape, for example, can
express a sense of order and care, whereas streets with withering trees and
worn-down buildings can convey indifference and carelessness. Experiments show that our perception of such implicated values influences our
behavior. For instance, people are more prone to steal in environments with
clear perceptual indications of norm violation (for example, graffiti on the
walls) than in environments where such perceived violations are absent.35
Hence, tarnished environments trigger morally degraded perception and
trespassing behavior.
But the influence of value embodiment on ethical perception also works
in a more constitutive way (bear in mind, on the Aristotelian view, agentenvironment influence is mutual): value embodiment in structures in the
external world can, it would appear, enhance our very capacity of ethical
perception by, for instance, presenting us with reasons for action that we
would not otherwise have had in the absence of being confronted with these
values or by simply sensitizing us to these values. Open meeting places such
as, for example, the Rynek market square, in Krakow, Poland, encourage
dialogue among an often heterogeneous community, and this may make us

Architecture, Ethical Perception, and Educating for Moral Responsibility13

more receptive to appreciating a plurality of values and to discerning moral options to which we where hitherto blind. Similarly, various structures,
landscaped parks and gardens, and monuments or memorials present us
with delightful, or sometimes sober, and engaging opportunity to reflect on
values. Habituation to and reflection on values can and does color our moral
sensibility and perceptual capacity.
Certain urban and natural environments contribute to a pensive cast
of mind and have the potential to facilitate reflection on values. As noted,
a substantial amount of empirical research shows that highly fascinating
environments have restorative potentialsuch environments can restore
optimal cognitive functioningto cognitively depleted individuals. Importantly, restorative experiences are differentiated from each other in depth or
richness. Four stages of restoration can be distinguished, each representing
progressively deepening levels of restorativeness. Clearing the head is the
first stage, in which random thoughts wander through the mind and fade
away gradually. In the second stage, one recharges ones capacity to direct
ones attention. In the third, the results of what happens in the former two
reduction of internal noise and initiation of cognitive quietnessenable
one clearly to hear unbidden thoughts or calmly to consider matters on ones
mind, mental phenomena to which one had not previously attended. Finally, the fourth, deepest stage involves reflection: reflections on ones life, on
ones priorities and possibilities, on ones actions and ones goals.36
We have registered that design is also central to carving out or giving
expression to lifestyles. Design, again, can encourage a plurality of lifestyles,
each with elements of value that are distinctive. Living a particular lifestyle,
to a large extent, whether consciously or unconsciously, molds ones ethical
identity and, to some extent, ones cultural identity too. Both these sorts
of identity are tightly enmeshed with values. Thus, in shaping ones ethical
and to some degree ones cultural identity, ones lifestyle frequently circumscribes the values that inform what one perceives as ethically significant,
and this, in turn, has a bearing on ones conduct. Similarly, just as design can
foster lifestyles, architecture more generally can project an image of how we
should live and think; it can project or embody a worldview or a way of life.
Embedded in this worldview or way of life are, of course, various values.
Just as value can be embodied or codified in architecture, it can be embodied or codified in other artistic media such as literature. The influence
of value embodiment in architecture on ethical perception, however, is pronounced, and it is so for various reasons. Value embodiment in architecture
is an instance of what may be described as the phenomenon of values writ
large, owing to architectural works being spatially and temporally commanding. They usually are large. One cannot but be struck, for instance, by
the beauty of the Taj Mahal, Gauds Sagrada Familia church, or the Alhambra and, in being so struck, frequently be moved to reflect on the attendant

14Haji, Cuypers, and Joye

values. In addition, normally an architectural work is firmly anchored in a
physical and cultural environment that alters slowly. We inhabit our built
environment, and if the values in the built structures, parks, landscapes, and
so forth are manifest, their influence on ethical perception is persistent. Finally, design, as we have registered, can mold lifestyles and, in so doing, can
be said to capture the values embedded in those lifestyles or of a cultural
tradition or way of life that finds expression in those lifestyles. Again, it is
not as if we can readily escape our lifestyles.

3. Moral Responsibility, the Development

of Ethical Perception, and Architecture
So far, we have addressed how the values embodied in architecture can
have a general influence on ethical perception. But fostering development
of ethical perceptionfacilitating our developing into ethically perceptive
agentsjust as fostering our development into virtuous agents, assumes
particular urgency during the formative years of childhood, if only because,
as we enter adulthood, our ways of ethical conceptualization have been
largely sculpted. How do, then, values embedded in architecture influence
ethical perception in childhood? And how does the development of such perception in childhood influence those things for which children are or will be
morally responsible? A slight digression into one of the conditions of moral
responsibility will prove fruitful in addressing these questions.

3.1 An Agency Requirement of Responsibility

In addition to freedom and epistemic constraints, moral responsibility has
agency requirements.37 Indeed, being an agent of a certain sort is a prerequisite for being able to satisfy the freedom and epistemic requirements of
responsibility. Toddlers or Irish wolfhounds, for example, are not morally responsible for their behavior because, among other reasons, they fail to fulfill
responsibilitys agency presuppositions. To be morally responsible, then, one
must be an agent of a certain sort, what we call a morally normative agent.
One agency requirement for responsibility is that the candidate be capable
of intentional deliberative action. Such action, in turn, requires some psychological basis for evaluative reasoning. To be responsible, for example, one must,
at least on occasion, be able to assess which line of conduct is best from ones
own perspective of what is best. Imagine a scenario in which you are both
tempted to smoke and tempted to refrain. We may suppose that you deliberate about or weigh these options. On the basis of such deliberation, you form
a practical judgment concerning what to do that is, again, better from your
own evaluative standpoint. All things considered, assume you judge that it
is better for you to refrain. Suppose, further, not succumbing to weakness of
will, you form a decision in keeping with this better judgmentyou decide

Architecture, Ethical Perception, and Educating for Moral Responsibility15

not to smoke. You then execute this decision and refrain from smoking. In a
scenario involving children, remembering his past encounter with his father
in a similar situation, little Tony might reflect on whether it would be better
for him to snatch the toy from his sister or to ask for it. With this picture in
mind, we may say that an agents deliberations that issue in a practical judgment about what to do, which, in turn, gives rise to a decision or intention,
involve an appraisal of reasons for or against action.
To entertain such reasons and to appraise them, the agent requires, as
we will say, an evaluative scheme (or its constituents). An evaluative scheme
is made up of four constituents: (1) normative standards the agent believes
(though not necessarily consciously) ought to be invoked in assessing reasons for action; also included are beliefs about how the agent should go
about making choices. We leave it open what these standards might turn
out to be, or how much weight one gives to standards that, on occasion,
deliver conflicting verdicts. You might, for instance, place a lot of stock in
engaging in activities, such as smoking cigars, sanctioned by standards that
derive from your peer groupit is fashionable, in your social milieu, to puff
on expensive cigars. But you might also assess courses of action on the basis
of prudential considerations or long-term self-interest. If you are not prone
to weakness of will or other irrational influences on a particular occasion
on which you are pondering whether you should indulge in a Havana, you
would have to sort out (if you have not already done so) to which of the pertinent deliberative principles you assign greater weight: the one concerning
self-interest or the one regarding peer acceptance.
What should be emphasized is that, to be a fitting candidate for moral
responsibility, the normative (or deliberative) standards of an agents evaluative scheme must include a set of moral principles or norms; the agent
must be minimally morally competent. She must understand the concepts
of rightness, obligatoriness, or wrongness; and she must be able to appraise,
morally, various choices or actions in light of the moral norms that are elements of her evaluative scheme. There is no requirement that these moral
appraisals be fully considered, free of error, or even conscious. Nor is there
any requirement that these norms be evidentially based or justified in any
strong sense of justification. The agent may simply assimilate, without
critical scrutiny, various norms of her religion, lifestyle, or culture.
Worthy of emphasis is that ones understanding of the normative concepts
may be fairly rudimentary, and the normative assessments one makes may
also be elementary. This is especially true of children. As an example, Gareth
Matthews, in a philosophy class with a group of fifth-graders, read to his
young students the story of the ring of Gyges in Platos Republic. In the story,
if the setting of the ring were turned in a certain direction, whoever wore
the ring would become invisible. Most of the children admitted that, if they
had the ring, they would do more bad things than they do now. But one girl,

16Haji, Cuypers, and Joye

Matthews calls her Anna, had something special to add: Sure, most of us
would do some bad things ... things we wouldnt have done otherwise; but
then with a magic ring like that some of us would also do some good things
we might not otherwise do. ... [I]t could be fun to do something nice for
someone who wouldnt be able to find out who had done the good deed.38
(2) Included in the agents evaluative scheme are desires, beliefs, or plans
that express the agents long-term ends or goals he deems worthwhile or
valuable. Arnold, for example, may underscore his commitment to attempt
to maximize overall happiness whenever he acts. A five-year-old may acquire the goal of being as generous as Santa.
(3) An evaluative schemes constituents also include deliberative principles the agent utilizes to arrive at practical judgments about what to do
or how to act. So, for instance, the agent may endorse a principle of this
sort: when self-interest conflicts with what peer pressure demands, always
side with self-interest. Or Arnold may believe that the best way to maximize
overall happiness is to rely on rules of thumb such as keep your promises,
dont cheat, dont steal, and such. Or a young child may endorse the
principle that, when there are six crayons to be shared among three kids,
each gets to keep two of the colors that he or she most likes.
(4) Lastly, an evaluative scheme incorporates motivation both to act on
the normative standards specified in (1) and to pursue ones goals of the
sort described in (2), at least partly on the basis of engaging the deliberative
principles outlined in (3).
One may opt to refine these four constituents of an evaluative scheme.
One might, for instance, wonder whether satisfaction of any of these conditions entails that the agent is self-conscious. Here, we remain (uneasily) content with what we have written about (1), (2), (3), and (4), fully recognizing
that much more needs to be said to appreciate the complex notion of being a
normative agent.
It suffices for an individuals being a morally normative agent at a certain
time that the individual have at that time (a) an evaluative scheme with the
requisite moral elementsthe agent is minimally morally competent; (b) deliberative skills and capacitiesthe agent has, for example, the capacity to
apply the normative standards that are elements of his evaluative scheme to
assessing reasons; and (c) executive capacitiesthe agent is able to act on at
least some of his intentions, decisions, or choices, or, if you want, the agent
has the capacity to translate some of his intentions, decisions, or choices into
action. An individual, like a toddler, who fails to have deliberative or executive capacities, will be able to exert much less control, if any, over her
actions than an individual, like a six-year-old or an adult, who does have
such capacities. Read condition (b) to require the agent to be able to engage
in genuine deliberation, however rudimentary the deliberation. His deliberative activities must meet the threshold of rationality below which such

Architecture, Ethical Perception, and Educating for Moral Responsibility17

activities fail to count as bona fide deliberation. Persons suffering from certain
severe psychological ailments may not be capable of genuine deliberation.
As a child matures, the child acquires an evaluative scheme; the child
becomes a normative agent. Normative agency is a matter of degree. Primary-school children are normative agents but not as far developed, as such
agents, as mentally healthy adults. Finally, we may say that the childs initial
evaluative scheme is the evaluative scheme that the child initially acquires.
Over time, initial schemes evolve; their constituents change. An individuals
evolved scheme is a scheme that causally results from appropriate modifications to that individuals initial scheme. It is adequate for our purposes to
limit attention to the childs initial scheme.

3.2 Shaping Initial Evaluative Schemes, Ethical Perception, and Architecture

We may now revert to the issues of central concern: How do values embedded in architecture influence ethical perception in children, and how, in turn,
does the development of such perception in children influence for what children are or will be morally responsible? We propose that architecture can
have an impact on the contours or the shaping of various constituentsthe
normative standards, long-term ends or goals, and moral motivationof a
childs initial evaluative scheme.
Here is the general, overall structure of our argument:
(1) Moral perception influences the development of initial evaluative
(2) Initial evaluative schemes influence the agency requirement of moral
(3) If (1) and (2), moral perception influences moral responsibility. Therefore,
(4) moral perception influences moral responsibility.
(5) The values embodied in architecture influence moral perception.
(6) If (4) and (5), the values embodied in architecture influence moral
responsibility. Therefore,
(7) the values embodied in architecture influence moral responsibility.
Our Aristotelian account of moral perception and our analysis of the agency
requirement of moral responsibility sustain the intermediary conclusion (4)
that moral perception influences moral responsibility. We have yet to support (7): architecture, as a result of its impact on moral perception, via moral
perceptions influence on initial evaluative schemes, bears significantly on
moral responsibility.
Two prefatory remarks are in order. First, in section 2, we addressed
moral perception in adults. In contrast, below we draw conclusions regarding moral perception in children. One could object that educators crucially
influence moral perception in children and, hence, that social factors that
bear on moral perception in such agents become far more prominent than

18Haji, Cuypers, and Joye

architectural ones. However, a recent approach concerning the emergence of
affective and cognitive capacities in the moral development of children underscores the importance of innate factors. On this view, human beings have
an innate moral endowment. Recent research demonstrates, for example,
that very young children, within the first year of life, manifest a range of
protoethical behaviors, such as helping, comforting, and sharing, that derive
from innate empathy of the contagion variety.39 So, although the educational
factor plays an important role in moral perception in children, it does not
preempt the role of the more direct (causal) interaction among architecture,
biological constitution, and moral perception.
Furthermore, the unfolding of normative agency, as emphasized, is progressive: there are degrees of normative agency. The rudimentary elements
or capacities of normative agency in the very young child are gradually
supplemented in the relatively more mature child with a richer repertoire of
the pertinent psychological elements or aptitudes. It would be injudicious to
neglect what is presumably, largely, an unconscious effect of external factors,
such as architectural ones, on various elements of the childs evolving initial
evaluative scheme. An overall sense of safety or congeniality, fostered partly
by environmental factors (as we discussed in a prior section) may well have
a salutary effect on the childs sense of well-being. This, in turn, may lead
the child to perceive situations differently from the way in which she would
were the environment to generate an overall sense of unease.
Second, regarding premise (1), we assume that there is a plausible empirical account of the psychological mechanism that connects moral perception
and the formation (and development) of initial evaluative schemes. Further
elaboration and defense of this conjecture lies far beyond this papers purview.
In our support of conclusion (7), we concentrate on the three main constituents of an (initial) evaluative scheme: the normative standards, longterm ends or goals, and moral motivation. To begin with, architecture can
influence what normative standards become incorporated into the childs
evaluative scheme. The acquisition of moral concepts is a precursor to acquiring a set of moral norms. Matthews advances the following description
of moral development that he contrasts with the cognitive and developmental stage theories of Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg.
A young child is able to latch onto the moral kind, bravery or lying, by grasping central paradigms of that kind, paradigms that even
the most mature and sophisticated moral agents still count as paradigmatic. Moral development is then something much more complicated than simple concept displacement. It is enlarging the stock of
paradigms for each moral kind; developing better and better definitions of whatever it is these paradigms exemplify; appreciating better
the relation between straightforward instances of the kind and close
relatives; and learning to adjudicate competing claims from different

Architecture, Ethical Perception, and Educating for Moral Responsibility19

moral kinds (classically the sometimes competing claims of justice
and compassion, but many other conflicts are possible).40
Architecture, with the help of child educators, can help in enlarging the stock
of paradigms for moral kinds through, for instance, acquaintance with examples of architecture that codify the relevant moral kinds. A wall that divides
and accentuates difference can supply a paradigm of unfairness. Such a dividing wall that brings into sharp focus what many will take as irreconcilable
differences between cultures or groups may foster development in the child
of the disposition to preserve these differences rather than the disposition to
see how similar, in the end, people are or the disposition to live harmoniously
with ones neighbors. In contrast, public spaces created to encourage children
from all walks of life, regardless of ethnic or economic denomination, to enjoy
various activities can present powerful examples of equality or justice. Buildings or museums with free, easy access to all, adorned with tapestries or murals that pictorially depict contrasts, for example, between the fortunate and
the destitute can, again, when appropriately discussed with children, supply
paradigms of fairness, generosity, or kindness. The creation of safe spaces, and
spaces that both encourage candid exchange of ideas and the free mingling of
people from all walks of life, can serve as a paradigm of trust.
Stories, accompanied with pictures or images, have a powerful impact on
children. The moral fables pictorially represented in the stained-glass panels
of a church, for instance, can have a nonnegligible effect on the normative
standards with which the child comes to identify. Similarly, explaining that
it was the Mughal emperor Shah Jahans love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal
(and his grief at her death) that largely motivated him to commission the
building of the Taj Mahal can impress the child with the value and enduring
motivational force of love. With this background, the child may well view
the Taj Mahal through new eyes, the subsequent perceptions reinforcing the
value of love or care.
We said that design also carves out or defines lifestyles. Lifestyles incorporate values that become an element of ones personal and cultural identity. Living or being brought up in a particular lifestyle can have a lasting
impact on the moral norms that the child acquires. Design or architecture
that celebrates a plurality of lifestyles, for instance, again with appropriate
education, exposes the child to a pluralistic set of norms.
Next, the initial evaluative scheme of a child has as a constituent, however rudimentary, her ends or goals. Again, the lifestyle or lifestyles to which
the child is exposed can shape these ends, as visions of architecture projects can shape how we should live and think. The simple layout of built
spacewhether we should all abandon the working district at the end of
the business day and struggle out to the suburbs, as we do in many of the
large American cities, or whether our homes are intermingled with areas of
tradecan mold important ends, such as the end to live in suburbs, as this

20Haji, Cuypers, and Joye

is deemed to be better than living in the inner city, or the end to purchase a
vehicle. In the right sort of environment, if a mother bikes or walks to work
and extols the virtues of so doing, her child may well acquire similar longterm goals as a result of being encouraged to do so.
Various built structures, as Allen Carlson comments, serve to inform, remind, induce, and inspire.41 We delight, for example, in Gauds structures;
they inspire us to cultivate the disposition to be creative; they can energize
us to produce things of value or to be enjoyed by everyone. Carlson further
comments that architectural structures can serve various kinds of nonartistic
functions: [T]hey protect, shelter, and comfort, providing places in which to
live, work, and worship.42 He remarks that, given their nature, these functions must typically be carried out literally rather than simply symbolically:
Even if a cathedral symbolizes the glory and the power of God, it must still
be a house of, and thereby provide a place in which to, worship.43 The literal execution of some of architectures nonartistic functions can, again, have
a productive impact on goal formation in children; many practitioners of a
faith adopt as life-long ends or goals some of the goals their faith advocates,
such as giving shelter for the night to the homeless (see Dixons example
with which we started).
Finally, living a certain lifestyle, as well as carrying out some of architectures nonartistic functions, can motivate one to act on the normative
standards or the ends that one may acquire as a result of living a particular
way of life or literally executing some of architectures functions. Children
of the Amish adopt various normative standards and goals that are largely
defining of their way of life and are motivated to act in accordance with
these normative standards to achieve these goals. Similarly, to take another
example, Islam is, among other things, a way of life insofar as it does not
compartmentalize the ethical values characteristic of the pertinent Islamic
tradition and secular values; to be a Muslim is, among other things, to be
guided in ones everyday conduct by the values that are partly definitive of
the apt Islamic tradition. Again, Islamic architecture may facilitate a childs
being able to be brought up in an Islamic way of life and thereby influence
the normative standards that the child internalizes and the bearing of these
standards on moral motivation.

We have undertaken what we stress is a preliminary exploration of a complex, multifaceted issue: architectures influence on moral responsibility and
educating for responsible agency. Needless to say, we have touched on only
selective elements of this composite project. We have attempted to forge relevant connections among ethical perception, architecture, moral responsibility, and educating for such responsibility. Taking our cue from Aristotle,

Architecture, Ethical Perception, and Educating for Moral Responsibility21

we agreed that ethical perception bears saliently on what we are morally
responsible for. We then proposed that architecture can have a healthy effect
on ethical perception, especially on the ethical perception of children. In his
fascinating essay on how buildings mean, Goodman claims that it matters
how and when a building means because a work of architecture works as
such to the extent that it enters into the way we see, feel, perceive, conceive,
comprehend in general.44 If architecture has or can have a significant impact on ethical perception and if ethical perception has or can have a significant impact on educating for moral responsibility, it follows that architecture
has or can have a significant impact on moral responsibility and educating
for responsible agency.45

1. Gilbert Harman, The Nature of Morality (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
2. Charles Starkey, On the Category of Moral Perception, Social Theory and Practice 32 (2006): 79.
3. Beth Dixon, Animals, Emotion, and Morality: Marking the Boundary (Amherst, NY:
Prometheus Books, 2008), 133.
4. Starkey, On the Category of Moral Perception, 8081.
5. Iris Murdoch, The Sovereignty of Good (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1970),
6. Ibid., 1718.
7. Starkey, On the Category of Moral Perception, 8182.
8. Rising to this challenge, Starkey advances such an analysis.
9. Nancy Sherman, The Fabric of Character (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), 29.
10. Dixon, Animals, Emotion, and Morality, 13334.
11. Ibid., 134.
12. See, for example, Robert Audi, Responsible Action and Virtuous Character, in
his Moral Knowledge and Ethical Character (New York: Oxford University Press,
1997), 15773, for an informative exploration of the Aristotelian idea of responsibility for character.
13. Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, trans. Richard McKeon (New York: Random
House, 1966), 1114a321114b3.
14. Sherman, The Fabric of Character, 152.
15. Ibid., 156.
16. Cf. Aga Khan IV, Architecture as a Force for Change, in his Where Hope Takes
Root (Vancouver, BC: Douglas & McIntyre, 2008), 74.
17. See, for instance, Oscar Newmans defensible space thesis in his Defensible
Space: Crime Prevention through Urban Design (New York: Macmillan, 1972), for
designs (allegedly) benign influence on certain kinds of antisocial or criminal
18. See, for example, Satoshi Sakuragawa, Tomoyuki Kaneko, and Yoshifumi Miyazaki, Effects of Contact with Wood on Blood Pressure and Subjective Evaluation, Journal of Wood Science 54 (2008): 10713; and Satoshi Sakuragawa, Yoshifumi Miyazaki, Tomoyuki Kaneko, and Teruoj Makita, Influence of Wood Wall
Panels on Physiological and Psychological Responses, Journal of Wood Science 51
(2005): 13640.
19. See, for instance, Rachel Kaplan and Stephen Kaplan, The Experience of Nature:

22Haji, Cuypers, and Joye






A Psychological Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989); and

Roger S. Ulrich, Biophilia, Biophobia, and Natural Landscapes, in The Biophilia
Hypothesis, ed. Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson (Washington, DC: Island Press, 1993), 73137.
See, for example, Dmitri Karmanov and Ronald Hamel, Assessing the Restorative Potential of Contemporary Urban Environment(s): Beyond the Nature versus Urban Dichotomy, Landscape and Urban Planning 86 (2008): 11525; Pierre
Ouellette, Rachel Kaplan, and Stephen Kaplan, The Monastery as a Restorative
Environment, Journal of Environmental Psychology 25 (2005): 17588; and Stephen
Kaplan, Lisa V. Bardwell, and Deborah B. Slakter, The Museum as a Restorative
Environment, Environment and Behavior 25 (1993): 72542.
See, for instance, Roger S. Ulrich and Craig Zimring, The Role of the Physical Environment in the Hospital of the 21st Century: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity (2004),
%20in%20the%2021st%20Century%20Hospital_0.pdf (accessed March 18, 2013).
Francis E. Kuo and William C. Sullivan, Aggression and Violence in the Inner
City: Effects of Environment via Mental Fatigue, Environment and Behavior 33
(2001): 54371.
Cf. Terry Hartig, Ralph Catalano, and Michael Ong, Cold Summer Weather,
Constrained Restoration, and the Use of Antidepressants in Sweden, Journal of
Environmental Psychology 27 (2007): 10716.
Apart from the purely visual aspects of architecture that are more related to aesthetical perception and experience, there is the aspect of the architectural embodiment of values that is obviously associated with moral perception. For general
discussions of architectures function in promoting ethical values, see, for example, Roger Scruton, The Aesthetics of Architecture (London: Methuen and Co. Ltd.,
1979); and Karsten Harries, The Ethical Function of Architecture (Cambridge, MA:
The MIT Press, 1997).
Anne Maass, I. Merici, E. Villafranca, R. Fulani, et al., Intimidating Buildings:
Can Courthouse Architecture Affect Perceived Likelihood of Conviction? Environment and Behavior 32 (2000): 67483.
Jack L. Nasar and Jummo Kang, House Style Preference and Meanings across
Taste Cultures, Landscape and Urban Planning 44 (1999): 3342; see also Jack L.
Nasar, Symbolic Meanings of House Styles, Environment and Behavior 21 (1989):
Ann S. Devlin, Judging a Book by Its Cover: Medical Building Facades and
Judgments of Care, Environment and Behavior 40 (2008): 30729.
Nelson Goodman, How Buildings Mean, in Nelson Goodman and CatherineZ. Elgin, Reconceptions in Philosophy and Other Arts and Sciences (Indianapolis,
IN: Hackett Publishing Company, 1988), 42.
See, for example, Edward K. Sadalla and Virgil L. Sheets, Symbolism in Building Materials: Self-presentational and Cognitive Components, Environment and
Behavior 25 (1993): 15580.
Cf. Moshe Bar and Maital Neta, Humans Prefer Curved Visual Objects, Psychological Science 17 (2006): 64548.
Cf. Nacy E. Aiken, The Biological Origins of Art (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998).
Cf. Moshe Bar and Maital Neta, Visual Elements of Subjective Preference Modulate Amygdala Activation, Neuropsychologia 45 (2007): 21912200.
See, for instance, Nilos A. Salingaros, Anti-Architecture and Deconstruction (Solingen, Germany: Umbau Verlag, 2004).
For a review of findings about this psychological association, see Arthur E.
Stamps III, Enclosure and Safety in Urbanscapes, Environment and Behavior 37
(2005): 10233.
See, for example, Kees Keizer, Siegwart Lindenberg, and Linda Steg, The
Spreading of Disorder, Science 322 (2008): 168185.

Architecture, Ethical Perception, and Educating for Moral Responsibility23

36. Kaplan and Kaplan, The Experience of Nature, 197.
37. More formally, person S is morally responsible for performing action A if and
only if, in performing A, (1) S believes that S is doing something morally obligatory, right, or wrong (the epistemic requirement); (2) A is under Ss control (the
freedom or control requirement); and (3) S is an agent of an appropriate sort (the
agency requirement). Part of the latter is the authenticity constraint: action A
should causally stem from authentic motivational springs. For a detailed analysis of these conditions of moral responsibility, see Ishtiyaque Haji, Moral Appraisability (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998); Ishtiyaque Haji and Stefaan E.
Cuypers, Moral Responsibility, Authenticity, and Education (New York: Routledge,
38. Gareth B. Matthews, Creativity in the Philosophical Thinking of Children,
Thinking: The Journal of Philosophy for Children 15 (2000): 17.
39. For a survey of this approach, see Susan Dwyer, Moral Development and Moral
Responsibility, The Monist 86 (2003): 18199.
40. Gareth B. Matthews, Concept Formation and Moral Development, in Philosophical Perspectives in Developmental Psychology, ed. James Russell (Oxford: Basil
Blackwell, 1987), 185.
41. Allen Carlson, Aesthetics and the Environment: The Appreciation of Nature, Art, and
Architecture (New York: Routledge, 2000), 208.
42. Ibid. See also Goodman How Buildings Mean, 32.
43. Carlson, Aesthetics and the Environment, 208.
44. Goodman How Buildings Mean, 48.
45. We are very grateful to the architects Hildegarde Heynen and Hans Vandeweghe
for fruitful discussions and comments.