Since the introduction of neoclassical economic theory, material wealth and accumulation have been linked to hedonic wellbeing. In turn, Utilitarian notions have generated the belief that infinite growth is not only good but necessary for society to prosper. Unsurprisingly, this belief system has supported the considerable depletion of natural resources and has not always led to social equitability or environmental justice, two pillars of sustainable development. Given these limitations, this paper looks into eudaimonic wellbeing, as defined by Stoicism. The latter originating in Classical Greece and Ancient Rome, has been used throughout the centuries to discuss and support the flourishing of individuals, but has rarely been applied to collective wellbeing. Consequently, we explore whether, and to what extent, this virtue-based philosophy can answer questions regarding the value and the role of material acquisition in societal development, as directed by sustainable policy. We propose the idea that the Stoic emphasis on prudence, self-control, courage and justice, as the only means to achieve “happiness”, is intrinsically linked to sustainable wellbeing and that its principles can be used to demonstrate that society does not require limitless growth to flourish.
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