The Politics of Sustainability: Philosophical perspectives, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Politics of Sustainability

Philosophical perspectives, 1st Edition

Edited by Dieter Birnbacher, May Thorseth


234 pages

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pub: 2017-07-28
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Responsibility for future generations is easily postulated in the abstract but it is much more difficult to set it to work in the concrete. It requires some changes in individual and institutional attitudes that are in opposition to what has been called the "systems variables" of industrial society: individual freedom, consumerism, and equality.

The Politics of Sustainability from Philosophical Perspectives seeks to examine the motivational and institutional obstacles standing in the way of a consistent politics of sustainability and to look for strategies to overcome them. It argues that though there have been significant changes in individual and especially collective attitudes to growth, intergenerational solidarity and nature preservation, it is far from certain whether these will be sufficient to encourage politicians into giving sustainable policies priority over other legitimate concerns. Having a philosophical approach as its main focus, the volume is at the same time interdisciplinary in combining political, psychological, ecological and economic analyses.

This book will be a contribution to the joint effort to meet the theoretical and practical challenges posed by climate change and other impending global perils and will be of interest to students of environmental studies, applied ethics and environmental psychology.


"‘The Politics of Sustainability: Philosophical Perspectives’, edited by Dieter Birnhacher and May Thorseth, brings a new angle into the discussion of the politics of sustainable development: ethical considerations."Jose Goldemberg, Electrotechnical and Energy Institute (IEE), University of Sao Paulo (USP), Brazil

Table of Contents

Introduction Part 1: Determinants of non-sustainable behavior 1. Climate change and motivation: The obstacle from conflicting perspectives Karsten Klint Jensen 2. The liberal tragedy of the commons: The deficiency of democracy in changing climate Ivo Wallimann-Helmer 3. Limitations to democratic governance of natural resources May Thorseth 4. Bernward Gesang: Is democracy an obstacle to ecological change? 2 Aspects of transition 5. Climate justice in the straitjacket of feasibility Dominic Roser 6. Climate justice, motivation and harm Kerri Woods 7. First things first: fight moral corruption! Roland Mees 8. Ideology and practice of the 'Green Economy' – world views shaping science and politics Joachim H. Spangenberg Part 3 Pathways to sustainability 9. Dieter Birnbacher: Some moral pragmatics of climate change 10. Libertarian Paternalism, sustainable self-binding and bounded freedom Ludger Heidbrink 11. The 'missing link'. Polarization and the need for 'trial by jury' procedures Adrian-Paul Iliescu 12. Parliaments and future generations – the Four-Power-Model Jörg Tremmel

About the Editors

Dieter Birnbacher is Professor of Philosophy at University of Düsseldorf, Germany

May Thorseth is Professor of Philosophy at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Sustainability

Sustainability has become one of the most pressing social, environmental, economic, cultural and political issues of our times. Yet the meaning of ‘sustainability’ remains elusive.

This series provides original insights from across the social sciences and humanities on the meaning and practice of sustainability. It offers both theoretical and practical analysis of ‘sustainability’, including social sustainability, sustainable consumption, democratic sustainability and sustainable behaviour.

These interdisciplinary books give students, researchers, policy makers and practitioners the latest thinking from international authors. This thought-provoking series draws on and is relevant to those working in a wide-range of disciplines, including environment, development, sociology, politics, philosophy, business and marketing, media, geography, and anthropology.

To submit proposals, please contact the Editor, Rebecca Brennan (

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy