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Fairness and FuturityEssays on Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice$
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Andrew Dobson

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198294894

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198294891.001.0001

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Ecology and Opportunity: Intergenerational Equity and Sustainable Options

Ecology and Opportunity: Intergenerational Equity and Sustainable Options

(p.118) 5 Ecology and Opportunity: Intergenerational Equity and Sustainable Options
Fairness and Futurity

Bryan Norton

Oxford University Press

Bryan Norton suggests that there are two ways of answering the sustainability question, ‘what to sustain?’ They are ‘utility comparison’ and ‘listing stuff’. While preferable to the former, the latter lacks a unifying theory of value, he says, and so any specification of what to bequeath to future generations will embody powerful normative assumptions. These assumptions, he argues, should be rooted in the norms of specific localities. Loss of natural value across generations must be regarded, Norton suggests, as non‐compensable, so environmental sustainability will involve the mandatory protection of whatever physical features are regarded as valuable in a given locality.

Keywords:   compensation, environmental sustainability, generations, local value, natural value, norms, utility

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