The Value of Darkness: A Moral Framework for Urban Nighttime Lighting

Taylor Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
97 Downloads (Pure)


The adverse effects of artificial nighttime lighting, known as light pollution, are emerging as an important environmental issue. To address these effects, current scientific research focuses mainly on identifying what is bad or undesirable about certain types and uses of lighting at night. This paper adopts a value-sensitive approach, focusing instead on what is good about darkness at night. In doing so, it offers a first comprehensive analysis of the environmental value of darkness at night from within applied ethics. A design for values orientation is utilized to conceptualize, define, and categorize the ways in which value is derived from darkness. Nine values are identified and categorized via their type of good, temporal outlook, and spatial characteristics. Furthermore, these nine values are translated into prima facie moral obligations that should be incorporated into future design choices, policy-making, and innovations to nighttime lighting. Thus, the value of darkness is analyzed with the practical goal of informing future decision-making about urban nighttime lighting.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScience and Engineering Ethics
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Darkness
  • Light pollution
  • Artificial light at night
  • Nighttime illumination
  • Design for values
  • Environmental ethics


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