Hannis, Michael (2009) Reconciling freedom and sustainability: a human flourishing approach. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

This thesis argues from a non-ecocentric perspective that environmental policy should be underpinned by a strong conception of ecological sustainability, and should eschew liberal neutrality in favour of government based on a substantive conception of human flourishing which accepts and celebrates our ecological embeddedness. A relational understanding of autonomy shows that such policy need not conflict with the protection of freedom, and is hence potentially compatible with a perfectionist liberalism which aims at intergenerational justice of capabilities. However reflection on the ecologically unsustainable resource consumption levels typical of affluent capitalist economies suggests that while a capabilities framework (potentially including protection of some capabilities as environmental rights) may be effective in establishing 'floors' at the lower end of the range of ethically acceptable consumption levels, 'ceilings' at the top end are better justified by reference to a eudaimonist ecological virtue ethics which understands and promotes ecological virtue as a matter of enlightened self-interest. Appeals to ecological virtue are entirely congruent with a capabilities approach to sustainability. Exhortations to ecological virtue aimed at individuals by governments are nonetheless illegitimate unless accompanied by policies which embody as well as facilitate such virtue, and aim to remove incentives to ecological vice. This includes robust regulation of consumption drivers and restriction of unsustainable options. Objections to such policies appealing to 'freedom of choice' are ill-founded to the extent that they neglect to examine the value of the options chosen between.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Politics, Philosophy, International Relations and Environment
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 26 Jul 2017 14:02
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2017 14:02
URI: http://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/3830

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