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Sustainable Freedom


Wood, G, Sustainable Freedom, New Interdisciplinary Perspectives on and Beyond Autonomy, Routledge, C Watkin and O Davis (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 135-149. ISBN 9781032364070 (2023) [Research Book Chapter]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2023 Routledge

DOI: doi:10.4324/9781003331780


Following John Stuart Mill, this chapter assumes that freedom is the highest moral value because it gives an individual human the greatest chance of achieving happiness. The chapter follows Isaiah Berlin in distinguishing between positive and negative freedom and Amartya Sen in understanding development as facilitating freedom. Balanced against freedom is the acknowledgement that human action has impacted negatively on the planet such that the ‘planetary boundaries’ are being exceeded. A balance is sought between the value of freedom as understood by Mill, Berlin and Sen, and the need to avoid exceeding planetary boundaries. Mill’s Harm Principle is applied across the set of present and future generations of humans (with an acknowledgement of the fact that the principle could be applied across the set of all present and future generations of sentient organisms). It is applied with specific reference to planetary boundaries, such that power can rightfully be exercised over a member of the human community against their will to prevent planetary boundaries being exceeded. This is justified because exceeding the planetary boundaries will limit the freedom of individuals in future generations. The implications and possible objections to this application of the Harm Principle are explored.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Keywords:freedom, classical liberalism, environmental ethics, sustainability
Research Division:Philosophy and Religious Studies
Research Group:Philosophy
Research Field:Environmental philosophy
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Ethics
Objective Field:Environmental ethics
UTAS Author:Wood, G (Dr Graham Wood)
ID Code:154867
Year Published:2023
Deposited By:Philosophy and Gender Studies
Deposited On:2023-01-16
Last Modified:2023-03-10

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