The Construction of a Sustainable Development in Times of Climate Change

Project: Dissertation

Layman's description

My thesis is a systematic analysis of the ethical principles behind the concept 'sustainable development' (SD), particularly focused on how these should be understood in light of climate change. My main argument is that SD is a practical construction that we are committed to simply by engaging in future-oriented activities. Thus understood, SD holds a key to successful climate change abatement.

My thesis departs from the debate about climate change. Many approaches to this problem tend to miss that an ethical stance is needed, which in turn may lead to politically and morally dangerous simplifications. The question about which society we ought to choose for today and tomorrow is central to the original meaning of sustainable development. We ought to strive towards a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, as it is commonly defined.
The question is what reasons we have to do that? What does it even mean to thus prioritise needs satisfaction (which needs are basic; should the needs of one individual override those of 1000 others if important enough, etc.)? A needs-based principle is often used for distribution of resources, such as health care, however more seldom as a theory about what we owe our children and grandchildren, etc.. Maybe the reason is that 'needs', just as 'sustainable development', is a vague concept - we just does not know what it means to thus prioritise needs satisfaction. Or it may be thought to be arbitrary to stop there - surely we owe people more than their mere subsistence.
The thesis will analyse questions as these, not only through the concept of needs but also through the intergenerational theory of justice called 'sufficientarianism'. Hopefully this has the effect of a not only empirically, but normatively adequate concept of sustainable developmen
Effective start/end date2009/09/012013/12/31