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Open AccessArticle

Redefining Sustainability: From Self-Determination to Environmental Autonomy

Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan
Philosophies 2019, 4(3), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies4030042
Received: 27 June 2019 / Revised: 22 July 2019 / Accepted: 23 July 2019 / Published: 26 July 2019
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Abstract

“Sustainability” is widely used by diverse organizations as the normative direction to coordinate common actions. But what should we sustain or maintain? Through philosophical reasoning and a literature review in environmental ethics, this paper explores this question and develops a working definition of “sustainability” that intends to be compatible with the global diversity of worldviews. I argue that sustainability is the maintenance of the conditions of possibility of continuation of (1) self-determining flourishing human existences. It entails (2) maintaining the natural processes of the global environment autonomous to limit the possible harmful consequences of the conflicts of distribution and domination, and (3) cultivating meaningful, diverse, and adaptable nurturing milieus. This definition encompasses the three intricate ideas of self-determination, autonomy of the global environment, and diversity. Self-determination as well as the preservation of the autonomy of global environmental processes are crucial elements to prevent the unescapable domination of some powerful groups and worldviews over others. Diversity is also a key piece of the sustainability puzzle as it provides ranges of options that make self-determination possible. This paper proposes an inclusive and flexible working definition of sustainability that is mindful of the global diversity of worldviews. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainability; self-determination; environmental autonomy; environmental domination; milieu; global ethics; sustainable development; diversity; pluralism; biodiversity sustainability; self-determination; environmental autonomy; environmental domination; milieu; global ethics; sustainable development; diversity; pluralism; biodiversity
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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Droz, L. Redefining Sustainability: From Self-Determination to Environmental Autonomy. Philosophies 2019, 4, 42.

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