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How Would you Like your 'Sustainability', Sir? Weak or Strong? A Reply to my Critics

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  • Wilfred Beckerman

Abstract

This article concentrates on the Jacobs and Daly criticisms (Environmental Values, Spring 1994) of my earlier article in the same journal (Autumn 1994) criticising the concept of 'sustainable development'. Daly and Jacobs agreed with my criticisms of 'weak' sustainability, but defended 'strong' sustainability on the grounds that natural and manmade capital were 'complements' in the productive process and that economists are wrong, therefore, in assuming that they are infinitely substitutable. This article maintains that they are confusing different concepts of 'complementarity' and 'substitutability'. It is also argued that, in fact, they do both sell crucial passes in their defence of strong sustainability without providing any clear criteria for their abandonment of it in certain cases. It is also denied that the fact that environmental services may provide different satisfactions from those obtained from other goods and services elevates it to the status of some over-riding moral value, or that discounting future costs and benefits is 'unfair' to future generations.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by White Horse Press in its journal Environmental Values.

Volume (Year): 4 (1995)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 169-179

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Handle: RePEc:env:journl:ev4:ev409

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Web page: http://www.erica.demon.co.uk

Related research

Keywords: Discounting; economic welfare; environmental values; inter-generational justice; natural capital; scarce resources; sustainability;

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Cited by:
  1. Moser, Titus, 2001. "MNCs and Sustainable Business Practice: The Case of the Colombian and Peruvian Petroleum Industries," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 291-309, February.
  2. Bowers, John, 2005. "Instrument choice for sustainable development: an application to the forestry sector," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 97-107, January.

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