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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 20, Issue 11/12, 2010

Environmental Ethics: Questions for the Future

Philip Cafaro
Pages 33-50

The Way Forward for Environmental Ethics
Ending Growth and Creating Sustainable Societies

The overarching goal of environmentalism as a political movement is the creation of sustainable societies that share resources fairly among people, and among people and other species. The core objectives of environmental philosophy should include articulating the ideals and principles of such just and generous sustainability, arguing for them among academics and in the public sphere, and working out their implications in particular areas of our environmental decision-making. That means challenging the goodness of endless economic growth and helping other environmental thinkers specify plausible and appealing alternatives to the economic status quo. It means ending our craven failure to honestly address population issues. It means committing to living according to our own environmental ideals. Interestingly, the mainstream philosophical tradition has some important, underutilized resources that, combined with new and creative thinking, can help us achieve these goals and keep ethical philosophy relevant to meeting the challenges of the 21st century.

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