Reforming Law and Economy for a Sustainable Earth: Critical Thought for Turbulent Times, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Reforming Law and Economy for a Sustainable Earth

Critical Thought for Turbulent Times, 1st Edition

By Paul Anderson


282 pages

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Few concerns preoccupy contemporary progressive thought as much as the issue of how to achieve a sustainable human society. The problems impeding this goal include those of how to arrest induced global environmental change (GEC), persistent disagreements about the contribution of economic activities to GEC and further differences in views on how these activities can be reformed in order to reduce the rate of change and thus to mitigate threats to much life on Earth.

Reforming Law and Economy for a Sustainable Earth aims to help resolve these problems in two ways. Since addressing GEC will require global coordination, the book first clarifies the conditions necessary to achieve this effectively. Paul Anderson explores these conditions with the aid of a sustained analysis of key concepts in influential disciplines, particularly in social and political theory and law, relating to the transition to a sustainable economy. Second, Anderson tackles the problem of how to arrest GEC by incisively evaluating two leading theoretical positions in terms of their capacity to support the conditions required for effective global coordination.

From this basis, the book offers an extensive critique of the idea that global environmental problems can be solved within the framework of global capitalism. It also critically reviews and advances the proposition that global sustainability can be achieved only by changing the capitalist form of organizing the economy.

Enriched by a genuinely interdisciplinary approach, the originality of Reforming Law and Economy for a Sustainable Earth lies in the manner it combines a rigorous analysis of the requirements for global sustainability with decisive conclusions as to what are, and what are not, viable means of fulfilling those requirements. The book advances research on sustainability within key disciplines, among them political theory, law and social science, by offering a timely and insightful statement about the global environmental predicament in the 21st century.


"Paul Anderson’s book constitutes a comprehensive analysis of the dynamics of unsustainable development, revealing the underlying political economy and regulatory causes of intensifying global ecological unsustainability. It demonstrates considerable scholarship, a firm grasp of a wide variety of different knowledge of social scientific bases, debates, disciplinary perspectives and schools of thinking. It also, thankfully, provides some pertinent sources of hope in terms of the conditions and possibilities for effective global ecological governance in what is often a darkening field social scientific analysis of the contemporary human condition in relation to our ecocidal treatment of the planet." John Barry, Queens University Belfast, UK

"Paul Anderson exposes the roulette wheel on which our sustainability bets are now placed. His analysis of this 'policy-masquerade of pricing' is sharp and cuts deep. His message is to the point; we need an institutional convergence on good governance rather than just more and more gambling to survive." Aubrey Meyer, co-founder of Global Commons Institute

"The book reviews a wealth of thought across different disciplines, which in itself is no mean feat,… [and] provides a rich interdisciplinary analysis of the current unsustainable organisation of human life on this planet, as well as points[s] to ways to resolving this global crisis that will provide interesting reading for an interdisciplinary audience from international lawyers, to economists, philosophers and political scientists". - Lucy Ford, Environmental Politics

"The book is timely, thoroughly researched, well-argued, and important politically … Most importantly, Anderson’s Reforming Law and Economy for a Sustainable Earth is tremendous in its ability to foster interdisciplinary conversations and to leverage such conversations as to render the scope of the book necessary rather than ill-advised. Anderson not only promises that his book will address a huge issue (reforming law and economy!) he also delivers in a way that might be of use to a wide readership." - Chase Hobbs-Morgan, Tulsa Law Review

Table of Contents

Introduction Part 1: International Environmental Law Reform 1. Proposals for international environmental law reform: a critical review of the literature 2. Refinement of the epistemology of global environmental sustainability Part 2: The Allocation Problem: Critique 3. The poverty of the market? Critique of economic prescriptions for international environmental law reform 4. The failure of market failure? Critique of the economic diagnosis of causes of global environmental change Part 3: The Allocation Problem: Re-diagnosis 5. Capitalism as allocation problem? Towards diagnosis of the causes of global environmental change Part 4: The Allocation Problem: Proposition 6. Towards international environmental law reform: towards a critical theory of justice? 7. Is ecological democracy sustainable?

About the Author

Paul Anderson’s work combines philosophy, law and ecology to address environmental and other pressing public concerns. A research fellow in the School of Law at the University of Warwick, his current work examines prospects of democratising key domestic and international structures of governance.

About the Series

Environmental Politics

Over recent years environmental politics has moved from a peripheral interest to a central concern within the discipline of politics. This series aims to reinforce this trend through the publication of books that investigate the nature of contemporary environmental politics and show the centrality of environmental politics to the study of politics per se. The series understands politics in a broad sense and books will focus on mainstream issues such as the policy process and new social movements as well as emerging areas such as cultural politics and political economy. Books in the series will analyse contemporary political practices with regards to the environment and/or explore possible future directions for the ‘greening’ of contemporary politics. The series will be of interest not only to academics and students working in the environmental field, but will also demand to be read within the broader discipline.

The series consists of two strands:

Environmental Politics addresses the needs of students and teachers, and the titles are published in paperback and hardback.

Routledge Research in Environmental Politics presents innovative new research intended for high-level specialist readership. These titles are published in hardback only.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Political
POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory