Vanderbilt Law Review


Frank B. Cross

First Page



How much is beauty worth in dollars? Some people may recoil at the very phrasing of this question. Yet placing a monetary value on natural resources is not inherently destructive. Custom places a monetary value on artwork. Capitalism even values beautiful natural vistas in the form of land prices. Placing a monetary value on beauty and other features of nature may be essential if one is to protect natural resources fully.

This Article explores the proper monetary valuation under Superfund and other legislation of natural objects,' including living animals, aesthetic views, and water purity. The path to achieving valuation is rife with pitfalls, both philosophical and practical. Should the law focus on the monetary value to those people who "consume beauty for gain," as in the free market, or should government also consider beauty's existence and intrinsic value to the rest of society, which may"consume it to live." If the latter, then what dollar value possibly can be used?