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Environmental sustainability as the first principle of distributive justice: Towards an ecological communitarian normative foundation for ecological economics

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  • Pelletier, Nathan

Abstract

The ecological economic concern with environmental sustainability embodies the normative orientations of the field. This concern is foremost a matter of distributive justice, the definition of which determines the relevance of the appropriate scale and efficient allocation criteria. Yet it would appear that the discipline lacks a shared, internally consistent set of ethical premises by which this concern might be legitimized. Various authors have embraced a Rawlsian conception of liberal justice as the appropriate banner for ecological economics in place of the consequentialist-libertarian foundations of neoclassical economics (including environmental economics). It is argued here that this is insufficient in so far as it is premised on a vision of a discrete, self-sufficient economic actor. Instead, it is posited that an ecological economic ethic must proceed from an understanding of the economic actor as community member -- a recognition implicit in recent ecological economic contributions focused on discourse ethics and deliberative democracy. An ecological communitarian conception of distributive justice, which views the well-being of the individual as inseparable from the integrity of its implicate, mutually constituting human and non-human natural communities, is advanced as the appropriate basis for the ecological economic world-view. In this light, the thermodynamic foundations of ecological economics are seen to provide the necessary departure point for normative decision-making oriented towards ensuring sustainability in economic organization.

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  • Pelletier, Nathan, 2010. "Environmental sustainability as the first principle of distributive justice: Towards an ecological communitarian normative foundation for ecological economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(10), pages 1887-1894, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:69:y:2010:i:10:p:1887-1894
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    Cited by:

    1. Granqvist, Harry & Grover, David, 2016. "Distributive fairness in paying for clean energy infrastructure," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 66486, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Vojnovic, Igor & Darden, Joe T., 2013. "Class/racial conflict, intolerance, and distortions in urban form: Lessons for sustainability from the Detroit region," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 88-98.
    3. Siciliano, Giuseppina & Urban, Frauke, 2017. "Equity-based Natural Resource Allocation for Infrastructure Development: Evidence From Large Hydropower Dams in Africa and Asia," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 130-139.
    4. Nan Li & Joseph Hilgard & Dietram A. Scheufele & Kenneth M. Winneg & Kathleen Hall Jamieson, 2016. "Cross-pressuring conservative Catholics? Effects of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the U.S. public opinion on climate change," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 139(3), pages 367-380, December.
    5. Bina, Olivia & Vaz, Sofia Guedes, 2011. "Humans, environment and economies: From vicious relationships to virtuous responsibility," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 170-178.
    6. Lo, Alex, 2014. "The Problem of Methodological Pluralism in Ecological Economics," MPRA Paper 49543, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Smith, Nicola J. & McDonald, Garry W. & Patterson, Murray G., 2014. "Is there overshoot of planetary limits? New indicators of human appropriation of the global biogeochemical cycles relative to their regenerative capacity based on ‘ecotime’ analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 80-92.
    8. Venghaus, Sandra & Selbmann, Kirsten, 2014. "Biofuel as social fuel: Introducing socio-environmental services as a means to reduce global inequity?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 84-92.
    9. Ramli, Noor Asiah & Munisamy, Susila, 2015. "Eco-efficiency in greenhouse emissions among manufacturing industries: A range adjusted measure," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 219-227.
    10. Kemp-Benedict, Eric, 2011. "Inequality, trust, and sustainability," MPRA Paper 33288, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. repec:bla:metroe:v:68:y:2017:i:1:p:147-184 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Granqvist, Harry & Grover, David, 2016. "Distributive fairness in paying for clean energy infrastructure," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 87-97.
    13. Bina, Olivia & La Camera, Francesco, 2011. "Promise and shortcomings of a green turn in recent policy responses to the “double crisis”," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(12), pages 2308-2316.
    14. Bloemmen, Marjolijn & Bobulescu, Roxana & Le, Nhu Tuyen & Vitari, Claudio, 2015. "Microeconomic degrowth: The case of Community Supported Agriculture," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 110-115.
    15. Lo, Alex Y., 2013. "Agreeing to pay under value disagreement: Reconceptualizing preference transformation in terms of pluralism with evidence from small-group deliberations on climate change," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 84-94.

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