UN3310: Ethics of Sustainable Development | A. Gondek

Sustainable Development
Undergraduate Lecture
Tu Th 2:40-3:25PM

Aiming to improve human conditions within many diverse environments, sustainable development seeks to create, increase and perpetuate benefit and to cease, rectify and reverse harm. Sustainable development is consequently inextricable from the fabric of ethics, woven with determinations of benefit and harm to the existence and well-being of both humans and nonhumans. Underlying such determinations are those of self- and other-regarding motivation and behavior; and underlying these are still others, of sensitivity and rationality in decision-making, whether individual, social or public. Sustainable development is interlaced with and contingent upon all these determinations, at once prescriptive and judgmental, which can be called the ethics of sustainable development. This course is divided into four main sections, of which two are intended to show the ethical fallacies of unsustainable development, and two, the ethical pathways of sustainable development. The first section focuses upon ethically problematic basic assumptions, including human (species) hegemony, happy (hedonic) materialism, and selective (data) denial. The second focuses upon ethically problematic ensuing rationalizations, including those pertaining to damages, victims, consequences and situations of climatic, chemical, biological and ecological harm. The third section responds to these rationalizations with ethically vital considerations of earth justice, environmental justice, culturally-based ethics, and sector-based ethics (water, food, place and climate ethics). Finally, the fourth section responds to the initial, longstanding problematic assumptions with a newly emergent ethical paradigm, comprising biotic wholeness, environmental integrity, and the deliberative zero-goal. Tying all sections together is the central theme: to be sustainable, development must be ethical. Reflecting the collaborative quality of the field of sustainable development, the course extends to readings whose authors have all pursued their work at intersections of science and ethics, environment and ethics, policy and ethics, business and ethics, and sustainable development and ethics.

Link to Vergil
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