Blackmore, C. (2012). Sustainability. In: Chadwick, Ruth; Árnason, Vilhjálmur; Faunce, Thomas; Gillies, Alan; Holm, Soren; McGee, Glenn; Poff, Deborah; Reynolds, Martin and Zwart, Hub eds. Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics (Second Edition), Volume 4. Elsevier, pp. 274–280.




Sustainability is explored from the anthropocentric perspective of sustainable development and ecocentric perspective of ecological sustainability. Links with fairness and justice are made, drawing on a range of ethical traditions. The various ethics adopted in discourses of sustainability are examined critically. The relevance of ethics to discourse, events,movements and action plans associated with sustainable development is discussed. Weak and strong conceptualizations of sustainable development are considered along with systemic approaches that attempt to balance various dimensions. A range of criticisms of the sustainable development concept is reviewed. The main ethical questions associated with ecological sustainability are elaborated, primarily by contrasting shallow and deep environmentalists’ viewpoints. The importance of bringing diverse perspectives on sustainability together in negotiating and agreeing on action is highlighted. It is suggested that some of the theories, concepts, and language discussed in this article provide potential tools to help facilitate the kind of dialogue that could lead to the necessary negotiation and agreement.

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