1st Edition

Sustainable Action and Motivation
Pathways for Individuals, Institutions and Humanity

ISBN 9780367189877
Published November 13, 2019 by Routledge
280 Pages

USD $160.00

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Book Description

Sustainable Action and Motivation proposes individual competencies and institutional policies that can help overcome the motivational hurdles that hamper sustainable action.

Following the Paris Agreement of 2015 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the political momentum urgently to begin the drastic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions has increased significantly. Affluent, high-income OECD countries are expected to take the lead in the global transition to a low carbon society. Given this, we need a better understanding of the motivational problems that people in affluent countries face with acting sustainably. This book investigates the above questions by analysing three fundamentally different perspectives: individuals and their motivation to act sustainably; institutions who take responsibility for issuing policies that steer us towards taking sustainable action; and humanity, each individual member of which ought to understand his or her non-sustainable behaviour in relation to the continued existence of the collective of human beings.

Using theories from empirical psychology and a phenomenological approach to the research, this book will be of great interest to students and scholars of practical philosophy, psychology of motivation and environmental psychology, as well as policymakers looking for ways to implement effective policies that encourage pro-environmental behaviour.

Table of Contents



Part I Problem, Method, and Case Material

Chapter 1 The Problem with Motivation for Sustainable Action

1.1 Sustainable Action – "What’s in it for me?"

1.2 Understanding Sustainability and Sustainable Action

1.3 The Need for a Philosophy of Motivation for Sustainable Action

1.4 Meta-Ethics and the Problem with Motivation

1.5 The Problem with Motivation for Sustainable Action

Chapter 2 Methodological Considerations

2.1 Introduction

2.2 Collective, Institutional and Individual Responsibility

2.3 What We Can Learn from Psychology and its Methods

2.4 The Method of Investigating Motivation for Sustainable Action

2.5 The Rubicon Model of Action Phases

Chapter 3 The Case Study Material

3.1 Introduction

3.2 The Semi-Vegetarian

3.3 The Doctor Without Borders

3.4 The "Power Grid Rebels"

3.5 The Purchase Manager

3.6 The Credit Restructuring Officer

3.7 Programme of Part II

Part II A Conceptual-Phenomenological Analysis of the Rubicon Action Phases

Chapter 4 Motivational Challenges in the Deliberative Phase

4.1 Introduction

4.2 Exploring the Deliberative Phase

4.3 Sustainable Action and Common-Sense Morality

4.4 Sustainable Action and Practical Self-Understanding

4.5 Overview and Diagnosis

Chapter 5 Motivational Challenges in the Commitment Phase

5.1 Introduction

5.2 Exploring the Commitment Phase 5.3 The Need for Planning

5.4 The Belief that One will Follow Through

5.5 Commitment and Recognition

5.6 Overview and Diagnosis

Chapter 6 Motivational Challenges in the Executive Phase

6.1 Introduction

6.2 Reconsidering One’s Intentions and Plans

6.3 Social Cooperation and Philosophy of Action

6.4 Self-Efficacy and Self-Control

6.5 Sustainable Action and Practical Identity

6.6 Overview and Diagnosis

Part III Pathways for Individuals, Institutions and Humanity

Chapter 7 Pathways for Individual Agents and Institutions

7.1 Introduction

7.2 Pathways for the Individual Agent

7.3 Pathways for Institutions

7.4 The Need for a Second-Order Commitment

Chapter 8

8.1 Introduction

8.2 A Bank as a Nexus of Legal and Ethical Relationships

8.3 Challenges Involving One’s Commitment to a Sustainable Policy

8.4 Sustainable Action and Potential Change in the Banking Sector

Chapter 9 Moral Corruption and the Pathway for Humanity

9.1 Introduction

9.2 ‘Humanity’ and Gardiner’s Concept of Moral Corruption

9.3 Moral Corruption Based on the Descriptive Diagnosis

9.4 Moral Corruption and Our Self-Constitution as Agents

9.5 Consequences of Moral Corruption for Our Integrity

9.6 Two Kinds of Commitment to Take up Humanity’s Challenge

Concluding Reflections


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Roland Mees studied fundamental mathematics at Utrecht University, business administration at the Rotterdam School of Management (Erasmus University), and philosophy in business at Utrecht University. Alongside his full-time job at ING, he obtained his PhD in 2017 at the Ethics Institute of Utrecht University, where he is an affiliated researcher. Mees is a director of Sustainable Finance at ING, based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

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Author - Roland  Mees

Roland Mees

Dr, ING/University Utrecht
Driebergen-Rijsenburg, Utrecht, Netherlands

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"This book is more up to date than ever. It identifies the main problem of meeting the challenges of sustainability in the psychology of motivation and argues that the essential remedy for the perils of climate change is a change in the mind-set of the peoples in the industrialised world. Written by a banker, it specifically deals with the ethical responsibility of bankers and other professions dealing with long-term investments."

Professor Dieter Birnbacher, University of Düsseldorf, Germany