Philosophy 59 posts

The foundation for our work is an understanding of the meanings and moral framings of prosperity. We explore philosophical, expert and everyday assumptions about the economy, and probe the distinction between technical questions of economic efficiency and moral questions of justice, sustainability and equality. We adopt a pragmatist and pluralistic approach to showcase both expert and everyday ideas of what sustainable prosperity might mean. Our assumption is that moral philosophies need to become embedded in the institutions, commitments and ethos of economic actors, if they are to be a basis for change. A more detailed outline of our investigation into the meanings and moral framings of the good life can be accessed on our theme page.

Reflexive realism and hope for the future – a response to Will Davies | by Jonathan Rowson
We are rarely encouraged to think of ourselves as good ancestors, but that’s what we need to become. After all, we represent the past the future relies on to have a viable present. If the idea of Utopia invites us to imagine the future, Jonathan Rowson argues, it is up to us to make a path towards that future discernible in the present.
The Meanings of ‘Home’. A response to Roger Scruton | by Victor Anderson
Roger Scruton’s paper usefully enlarges the scope of our discussions in CUSP, bringing a wider range of concepts to bear on the question of “sustainable prosperity”. However despite this wide scope, Victor Anderson argues, there is inherent in his arguments a philosophical justification for nimbyism.
Who is clearing up the ‘mess’ at ‘home’? A feminist response to Roger Scruton | by Malaika Cunningham
Scruton’s understanding of home or ‘oikophilia’ overlooks the patriarchal norms which govern these institutions, Malaika Cunningham argues in her response, this undermines his own argument against doctrines and ‘top-down’ structures.
What exactly are we conserving? A response to Roger Scruton | by Will Davies
Conservative thinking offers various necessary ingredients for any serious reflection on the meaning of ‘sustainable prosperity’. Yet, the relationship between sustainable prosperity and conservatism is a paradoxical one, Will Davies argues in his reply to Roger Scruton's recent essay for CUSP.
Settling Down and Marking Time | Essay by Roger Scruton
Can we create communities that are both prosperous and sustainable? And can we do this while retaining democratic procedures? These are huge questions and, like others who have addressed them, Roger Scruton is by no means convinced that he has a persuasive answer. But an answer is more likely to be found, he argues, "in the legacy of conservative thinking, than by adopting the standpoint of the top-down plan."
Rethinking Capitalism | Joint lecture by Mariana Mazzucato and Michael Jacobs, 15 March 2017
In this joint lecture, Mariana Mazzucato and Michael Jacobs will seek to explain the causes of the current economic crisis, and suggest how we might escape it. Drawing on their new book, Rethinking Capitalism: Economics and Policy for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth they will show how today’s deep economic problems reflect the inadequacies of orthodox economic theory and the failure of economic policies informed by it.
Making all things comrades – Review of Wark’s Molecular Red
The great humanistic emancipatory projects of the 20th century have run into the sand, leaving a non-humanistic one running riot: the Carbon Liberation Front. The rapid liberation of carbon molecules into the earth’s atmosphere is the dominant political programme of the 21st century, and neither state socialism nor capitalism provide any adequate response, it seems.
Professional Ethics in the Mirror. A response to Melissa Lane | by Aled Jones and Alison Greig
Academics must be conscious of the impact they create, Aled Jones and Alison Greig argue in their commentary, "even if that impact is unintentional. We must take responsibility for the action, or lack thereof, from the knowledge that we disseminate."
Against environmental awakening | Review of Bonneuil and Fressoz’s The Shock of the Anthropocene
What if we have known about our unsustainable destruction of the environment for a long time? Might we learn from our history of conscious ruin, and see more lucidly which institutions, social relations and modes of thought have perpetuated it?
Moral Economies of the Future – The Utopian Impulse of Sustainable Prosperity | Working Paper No 5
The field of ‘moral economy’ explores the ways in which seemingly amoral economic institutions are normatively and politically instituted. However it has tended to neglect the question of how economic actors make commitments to the long-term future, of the sort that are implied by the idea of ‘sustainable prosperity’. Anthropocenic utopias are urgently required.
Professionals and citizens. A response to Melissa Lane | by Victor Anderson
Citizenship is not so undifferentiated as Melissa Lane's paper makes out, Victor Anderson finds, and is every bit as diverse in the particular duties it implies. Professionalism matters, yes – but being a good citizen matters even more.
‘Professional ethics’ or ‘risk management’? A response to Melissa Lane | by Will Davies
Environmental ethics cannot simply focus on the macro and the micro-levels of decision-making, Will Davies writes, when the sociology of contemporary capitalism compels us to consider the ethical commitments of institutions and authorities that operate between the two.
A New Professional Ethics for Sustainable Prosperity | Essay by Melissa Lane
Whose job is it to save the planet? Apart from a very few people the task is not in anyone’s job description. Yet, to achieve sustainable prosperity, we can’t afford to hide behind the permissions attached to our professional roles as they now stand, argues Melissa Lane in the first essay of our CUSP essay series on the morality of sustainable prosperity.
Social Science and Moral Economy | Evening lecture by Prof Andrew Sayer, 22nd Feb 2017
Using the example of political economy, Professor Andrew Sayer will talk about social science’s conflicted stances towards normativity, and how these derive from unsatisfactory treatments of culture-nature relations, and a false equation of objectivity with value-freedom.
“In the beginning all the world was America”: Review of Purdy’s After Nature
Jedediah Purdy’s history of the idea of nature in American thought provides an instructive context for contemporary environmental debate, Richard Douglas finds, but its idea of democracy founders on the absence of a vision of humanity’s purpose in a post-growth world.
Time and nature in the Fossil Economy | Seminar w/ Andreas Malm
Andreas Malm, author of Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming (Verso, 2016), and Associate Senior Lecturer in Human Ecology at Lund University, Sweden, will deliver a talk at Goldsmiths on some of his latest work.
Beyond Consumer Capitalism – Foundations for a Sustainable Prosperity | Working Paper No 2
This paper explores the ramifications of the combined crises now faced by the prevailing growth-based model of economics. In paying a particular attention to the nature of enterprise, the quality of work, the structure of investment and the role of money, the paper develops the conceptual basis for social innovation in each of these areas, and provides empirical examples of such innovations.
Understanding Sustainable Prosperity – Towards a transdisciplinary research agenda | Working Paper No 1
Understanding sustainable prosperity is an essential but complex task. It implies an ongoing multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary research agenda. This working paper sets out the dimensions of this task. In doing so it also establishes the foundations for the research of the ESRC-funded Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP).
Developing the philosophy for a sustainable prosperity | Blog by Will Davies
A shift towards a sustainable prosperity must ultimately be a shift in values, and needs to be understood as such, co-investigator Dr Will Davies writes in this blog, setting out the work programme for our research theme on the meaning and moral framing of the good life.