Environmental Ethics

Volume 19, Issue 3, Fall 1997

Rudi M. Verburg, Vincent Wiegel
Pages 247-265

On the Compatibility of Sustainability and Economic Growth

It is generally assumed that sustainable development and economic growth are compatible objectives. Because this assumption has been left unspecified, the debate on sustainability and growth has remained vague and confusing. Attempts at specification not only involve clarification of the interrelation of the two concepts, but also, we argue, require a philosophical approach in which the concepts of sustainability and economic growth are analyzed in the context of our frame of reference. We suggest that if the notion of sustainability is to be taken seriously, the conflicting conceptual and normative orientations between the two concepts require the reconsideration of our frame of reference.