essays 7 posts

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To explore the meaning and moral framing of sustainable prosperity, we have commissioned six papers by leading international philosophers and social theorists, each adopting a distinctive and divergent perspective on the topic. The authors of these papers are (in order): Melissa Lane, Princeton University; Roger Scruton; John Bellamy Foster, University of Oregon; Ingrid Robeyns, Utrecht University; Ruth Levitas, Bristol University and John O’Neill, Manchester.

These connect questions of human flourishing with those of economic and environmental policy, seeking the normative foundations and possible institutions that might underpin sustainable prosperity in future. The papers were written with the purpose of enriching public debate.

The authors were brought together at a conference on 16 February 2018. For videos and further details, please see the dedicated event page.

Who Will Sustain Sustainable Prosperity? | Essay by Miriam Ronzoni
Challenges to sustainable prosperity cannot be addressed successfully through a top-down approach when this enjoys no political support, nor will simply letting people take care of their own environment do the trick. The problem requires us, instead, to appreciate the negative externalities we impose on distant, unknown others and to be politically motivated by the aim to avoid that.
Life beyond Capital | Essay by John O’Neill
The language of capital penetrates social and environmental policy discussions at local, national and international level. Yet its appeal, John O’Neill argues, is premised on a fundamental misunderstanding of prosperity. The treatment of nature as capital is not a solution to the problems of environmental loss. Rather, it is part of the problem.
Where there is no vision, the people perish: a utopian ethic for a transformed future | Essay by Ruth Levitas
In the fifth essay in our series, Ruth Levitas argues that thinking about our ethical responsibilities in the present and for the future is helped by looking through the lens of Utopia. The Utopian approach allows us not only to imagine what an alternative society could look like, but enables us to imagine what it might feel like to inhabit it.
Freedom and Responsibility – Sustainable Prosperity through a Capabilities Lens | Essay by Ingrid Robeyns
Is it possible to lead rich and good lives that are simultaneously just and ecologically sustainable? Yes, Ingrid Robeyns argues in the fourth of our CUSP essay series on the morality of sustainable prosperity, if we understand well-being and human flourishing in terms of human capabilities.
The Meaning of Work in a Sustainable Society: A Marxian View | Essay by John Bellamy Foster
The nature of work has divided thinkers across the fields since the Industrial Revolution. In his Marxian take on the meaning of work, John Bellamy Foster argues that the real potential for any future sustainable society rests not so much on its expansion of leisure time, but rather on its capacity to generate a new world of collective work.
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."
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.