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Whose Sustainability? Environmental Domination and Sen's Capability Approach

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  • Fabian Scholtes
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    Abstract

    Dealing with nature according to a concept of sustainability extends contingent, particular valuations of nature into the space of the options of others, especially those of future generations. When such an imposition of valuations circumscribes the options of others in a definitive way, sustainability—despite any contrary intentions—implies “environmental domination”. This article asks how concepts of sustainability may respond to this problem. It suggests three criteria. These are: the accessibility as well as reflectiveness of reasons for dealing with nature; the acceptability of the valuational reference of these reasons; and openness towards fundamentally different ideas of “the good”. Based on these criteria, the article then analyses how Sen's Capability Approach to development conceives of sustainability and valuations of nature. It suggests that the approach responds to the first two criteria and thus seems a promising base for conceptualizing sustainability. With respect to the third, doubts remain and this is taken to be a challenge to the approach.

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    File URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13600818.2010.505683
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Oxford Development Studies.

    Volume (Year): 38 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: 289-307

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:oxdevs:v:38:y:2010:i:3:p:289-307

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