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Structuring Ethical Interpretations of the Sustainable Development Goals—Concepts, Implications and Progress

Faculty of Architecture and Design, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 7491 Trondheim, Norway
Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 829;
Received: 31 December 2017 / Revised: 6 March 2018 / Accepted: 10 March 2018 / Published: 15 March 2018
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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), like the sustainable development (SD) concept itself, are open to multifaceted interpretations, and the same is true for their ethical implications. While SDG values are widely accepted as universal, the ethical structure of the SDGs is complex, with differing interpretations and ideas, e.g., on how to regard and value nature. This article is a conceptual attempt to clarify and structure ethical interpretations based on an environmental ethics framework consisting of two branches: anthropocentrism and biocentrism. The aim is to provide an overview of SDG positions and locate them in the wider field of environmental ethics, addressing the human–nature relationship as a recurring topic in the SDGs. Section 1 of this article presents environmental ethics and briefly discusses anthropocentrism and biocentrism. Section 2 outlines ethical similarities of SD and the SDGs and locates representative SDG interpretations within the environmental ethics framework. Section 3 summarizes findings and suggests a possibility of integrating biocentrism and anthropocentrism with regard to the further interpretation and discussion of SDG ethics. Insights from this article will aid researchers in adopting a better overview on ethical positions in the SDG debate. View Full-Text
Keywords: environmental ethics; SDG interpretations; nature experience environmental ethics; SDG interpretations; nature experience
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Keitsch, M. Structuring Ethical Interpretations of the Sustainable Development Goals—Concepts, Implications and Progress. Sustainability 2018, 10, 829.

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