Towards the Ethics of a Green Future (Open Access): The Theory and Practice of Human Rights for Future People, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Towards the Ethics of a Green Future (Open Access)

The Theory and Practice of Human Rights for Future People, 1st Edition

Edited by Marcus Düwell, Gerhard Bos, Naomi van Steenbergen


208 pages

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*Open Access content has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) license

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What are our obligations towards future generations who stand to be harmed by the impact of today’s environmental crises? This book explores ecological sustainability as a human rights issue and examines what our long-term responsibilities might be.

This interdisciplinary collection of chapters provides a basis for understanding the debates on the provision of sustainability for future generations from a diverse set of theoretical standpoints. Covering a broad range of perspectives such as risk and uncertainty, legal implementation, representation, motivation and economics, Towards the Ethics of a Green Future sets out the key questions involved in this complex ethical issue. The contributors bring theoretical discussions to life through the use of case studies and real-world examples. The book also includes clear and tangible recommendations for policymakers on how to put the suggestions proposed within the book into practice.

This book will be of great interest to all researchers and students concerned with issues of sustainability and human rights, as well as scholars of environmental politics, law and ethics more generally.


"This book results from years of collective work on some of the key philosophical issues raised by climate change and intergenerational justice. Its focus on rights renders it very distinctive. It is interdisciplinary in content, wide in coverage and accessible. An absolutely welcome addition to the sustainability literature."Axel Gosseries, FNRS Research Professor, University of Louvain, Belgium and Head of the Hoover Chair in Economic and Social Ethics

"An exceptionally broad yet incisive exploration of human rights, climate change, and sustainability. Well-argued essays on the philosophy, politics, economics, and psychology of environmental human rights break much new ground, and together offer a persuasive argument supporting intergenerational justice and a sustainable environmental future."Richard P. Hiskes, author of The Human Right to a Green Future

"Outstanding philosophers take rights, especially the rights of the future people who will live in our distant wake, seriously by taking seriously the concrete complexities of the policies needed now to protect them later, providing, for example, a probing and nuanced critique of economists’ standard but misleading analysis of climate change as a negative externality, a wide-ranging and perceptive exploration of how current political procedures can be changed to protect future interests, and an imaginative assault on the neglected challenge of how to motivate people today to take essential actions on behalf of the now nameless and faceless people yet to be born."Henry Shue, Centre for International Studies, University of Oxford, UK, author of Basic Rights (1996) and Climate Justice (2014)

"Climate change is the most important ethical challenge facing the world today. Understanding our duties to future generations is critical. This admirable and timely collection contains important voices on central issues, of human rights, intergenerational justice and governance. It should interest all those concerned with the ethics of a green future."Steve Gardiner, Professor of Philosophy and Ben Rabinowitz Endowed Professor of Human Dimensions of the Environment, University of Washington, USA

Towards the Ethics of a Green Future is essential for anyone interested

in intergenerational or climate ethics. It is also suitable for upper division or

graduate level courses on climate ethics or intergenerational justice. Because

of the wide range of topic covered, it offers a clear ‘lay of the land’ of the intergenerational

ethics literature. --J. SPENCER ATKINS, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Environmental Values, Vol 28, No. 4, August 2019

Table of Contents

1. Introduction Gerhard Bos, Marcus Düwell & Naomi van Steenbergen 2. Why "Rights" of Future People? Marcus Düwell & Gerhard Bos 3. Risk and Rights: How do Deal with Risks from a Rights-Based Perspective Lukas Meyer, Fabian Schuppert, Harald Stelzer & Adriana Placani 4. Looking to the Future: Finding Suitable Models and Scenarios Joachim H. Spangenberg 5. Pathways for Future Generations in Existing Legal Human Rights Provisions Elina Pirjatanniemi 6. Political Representation of Future Generations Danielle Zwarthoed 7. Intergenerational Justice in the Context of Developing Countries Adrian-Paul Iliescu, Ileana Dascălu, Thierry Ngosso & Naomi van Steenbergen 8. Climate Economics and Future Generations Klaus Steigleder 9. Motivational Aspects of a Politics of Sustainability Dieter Birnbacher 10. Governance Towards a Green Future May Thorseth & Fabian Schuppert 11. Ethics of a Green Future: A Research Agenda Marcus Düwell & Karsten Klint Jensen

About the Editors

Marcus Düwell holds a chair in philosophical ethics at Utrecht University, and is the Director of the university's Ethics Institute. His research focuses on ethics of human rights, ethics of future generations and bioethics.

Gerhard Bos’s research is directed towards the conceptual underpinnings of human rights and the implications for long-term responsibilities. He worked at the Ethics Institute at Utrecht University as a postdoctoral researcher, and coordinated the ESF Research Networking Programme ‘Rights to a Green Future’ (2011–2015).

Naomi van Steenbergen divides her research time between moral psychology, ethics and climate justice. She is currently co-editing a book on practical self-understanding. Besides her research and teaching in philosophy, she works as a literary and academic translator.

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 ([email protected]).

Learn more…

Subject Categories

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