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Whose Sustainability? Environmental Domination and Sen's Capability Approach

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  • Fabian Scholtes

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Fabian Scholtes, 2010. "Whose Sustainability? Environmental Domination and Sen's Capability Approach," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(3), pages 289-307.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:oxdevs:v:38:y:2010:i:3:p:289-307
    DOI: 10.1080/13600818.2010.505683
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    Cited by:

    1. Mabsout, Ramzi, 2015. "Mindful capability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 86-97.
    2. Pelenc, Jérôme, 2014. "Développement humain responsable et aménagement du territoire. Réflexions à partir de deux réserves de biosphère périurbaines en France et au Chili
      [Responsible Human Development and Land-Use Plann
      ," MPRA Paper 56094, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Polishchuk, Yuliana & Rauschmayer, Felix, 2012. "Beyond “benefits”? Looking at ecosystem services through the capability approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 103-111.
    4. repec:eee:ecolec:v:143:y:2018:i:c:p:97-104 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Demals, Thierry & Hyard, Alexandra, 2014. "Is Amartya Sen's sustainable freedom a broader vision of sustainability?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 33-38.
    6. Griewald, Yuliana & Rauschmayer, Felix, 2014. "Exploring an environmental conflict from a capability perspective," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 30-39.
    7. repec:eee:ecolec:v:141:y:2017:i:c:p:136-143 is not listed on IDEAS

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