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Sustainable Development And The Process Of Justifying Choices In A Controversial Universe


  • Olivier Godard

    (CIRED - Centre International de Recherche sur l'Environnement et le Développement - ENGREF - Ecole Nationale du Génie Rural, des Eaux et des Forêts - CIRAD - Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)


All in all, neither the path of the generic principle nor that of the reduction to existing principles would appear to be fully satisfactory as the basis for establishing the legitimacy of sustainable development or as a way of making sustainability a principle of legitimacy by its own. We should probably resign ourselves to seeing in this idea a composite construction, still striving towards the formation of a new "superior common principle", without this principle yet being able to be completely clarified and validated. What we have here is an example of the sort of "compromise" described by Boltanski and Thévenot (1991, p.338): "In the compromise, the participants abandon the idea of clarifying the principle of their agreement but endeavour to maintain a frame of mind aiming at the common good." If we want to consolidate the compromise developing around sustainability, it would be well advised to seek the support of tests using well-formed objects. To this end, steps should be taken to move the emphasis away from long-term and unknowable sustainability requirements and closer to secondbest criteria focused on the transitional developments and possible risks of intentional human action, the ways of managing the linking of the different temporalities in play -- as regards the biophysical phenomena, their understanding and the main worlds of legitimacy (Godard, 1992) -- and the introduction of deliberation within the present generations as to what they feel best describes their identity, those things they would like to pass on.

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  • Olivier Godard, 1998. "Sustainable Development And The Process Of Justifying Choices In A Controversial Universe," Post-Print hal-00622855, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-00622855
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Olivier Godard, 1990. "Environnement, modes de coordination et systèmes de légitimité : analyse de la catégorie de patrimoine naturel," Revue Économique, Programme National Persée, vol. 41(2), pages 215-242.
    2. Solow, Robert, 1993. "An almost practical step toward sustainability," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 162-172, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Damien Rousselière & Samira Rousselière, 2010. "On the impact of trust on consumer willingness to purchase GM food:Evidence from a European survey," Review of Agricultural and Environmental Studies - Revue d'Etudes en Agriculture et Environnement, INRA Department of Economics, vol. 91(1), pages 5-26.
    2. Olivier Godard, 2012. "Ecological debt and historical responsibility revisited - The case of climate change," RSCAS Working Papers 2012/46, European University Institute.

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