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Sustainable Development: Business as Usual or a New Way of Living?


Davidson, J, Sustainable Development: Business as Usual or a New Way of Living?, Environmental Ethics, 22, (1) pp. 25-42. ISSN 0163-4275 (2000) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.5840/enviroethics200022147


In the eighteenth century, the economic problem was reformulated according to a particular set of politico-economic components, in which the pursuit of individual freedom was elevated to an ethical and political ideal. Subsequent developments of this individualist philosophy together with the achievements of technological progress now appear as a threat to future existence. Extensive environmental degradation and persistent global inequalities of wealth demand a new reformulation of the economic problem. Sustainable development has emerged as the most recent economic strategy for addressing concerns about ecological integrity and social justice. Although there is a recognized continuum of understanding about the concept - from conservative to radical - it has been argued that only the radical version of sustainable development embodies the ethical capacity to address these concerns. Simultaneously the perennial existential question "How should we live?" has been raised anew along with the novel ethico-moral question: "How should we arrange our systems of production and consumption to ensure the sustainability of the Earth under conditions of conspicuous and pressing environmentally limiting conditions?" Moreover, the strong normative dimension embodied in the radical version of sustainability represents a challenge to liberal democracy and its understanding of individual and collective goods. I argue that the radical approach has the capacity to relieve what is an inherently acute tension of modern life and to reconcile individual autonomy with the wider social and ecological good.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Philosophy and Religious Studies
Research Group:Philosophy
Research Field:Aesthetics
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Environmental policy, legislation and standards
Objective Field:Institutional arrangements
UTAS Author:Davidson, J (Dr John Davidson)
ID Code:19778
Year Published:2000
Web of Science® Times Cited:23
Deposited By:Geography and Environmental Studies
Deposited On:2000-08-01
Last Modified:2011-07-06

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