Sustainable Action and Motivation: Pathways for Individuals, Institutions and Humanity, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Sustainable Action and Motivation

Pathways for Individuals, Institutions and Humanity, 1st Edition

By Roland Mees


270 pages

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pub: 2019-11-12
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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


About the Author

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.

About the Series

Routledge Environmental Ethics

Routledge Environmental Ethics

Series Editor: Benjamin Hale, University of Colorado, Boulder

The Routledge Environmental Ethics series aims to gather novel work on questions that fall at the intersection of the normative and the practical, with an eye toward conceptual issues that bear on environmental policy and environmental science. Recognizing the growing need for input from academic philosophers and political theorists in the broader environmental discourse, but also acknowledging that moral responsibilities for environmental alteration cannot be understood without rooting themselves in the practical and descriptive details, this series aims to unify contributions from within the environmental literature.

Books in this series can cover topics in a range of environmental contexts, including individual responsibility for climate change, conceptual matters affecting climate policy, the moral underpinnings of endangered species protection, complications facing wildlife management, the nature of extinction, the ethics of reintroduction and assisted migration, reparative responsibilities to restore, among many others.

We welcome book proposals from all branches of ethics, political theory, and philosophy more broadly, aiming to create a collection of work that touches on the most pressing environmental issues of our time. We favour manuscripts aimed at an international readership and written in a lively style that minimizes jargon. As our readership includes scholars and students from across the disciplinary spectrum, we also hope to support work that both brings practical relevance to theoretical questions for academics to further develop, but that also assists in conveying important conceptual insights to environmental policy makers, managers, and academics in other fields.

Please contact the Editor, Rebecca Brennan ([email protected]) to discuss a proposal.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
NATURE / Ecology
PHILOSOPHY / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
PHILOSOPHY / Movements / Phenomenology