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Towards an Integration of the Ecological Space Paradigm and the Capabilities Approach

  • Wouter Peeters
  • Jo Dirix
  • Sigrid Sterckx
Articles

Abstract

In order to develop a model of equitable and sustainable distribution, this paper advocates integrating the ecological space paradigm and the capabilities approach. As the currency of distribution, this account proposes a hybrid of capabilities and ecological space. Although the goal of distributive justice should be to secure and promote people’s capabilities now and in the future, doing so requires acknowledging that these capabilities are dependent on the biophysical preconditions as well as inculcating the ethos of restraint. Both issues have been highlighted from the perspective of the ecological space paradigm. Concerning the scope of distributive justice, the integration can combine the advantages of the ecological space paradigm regarding the allocation of the responsibilities involved in environmental sustainability with the strength of the capabilities approach regarding people’s entitlements. The pattern of distribution starts from a capability threshold. In order to achieve this threshold, ecological space should be provided sufficiently, and the remaining ecological space budget could then be distributed according to the equal per capita principle.

Keywords

Distributive justice Social justice Environmental sustainability Capabilities Ecological space 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Thomas Potthast and Simon Meisch for inviting us to contribute to this special issue. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2012 EURSAFE Conference (Tübingen, 30 May–02 June). We are grateful to the audience for their critical comments. We would also like to thank Lieske Voget-Kleshin, Sebastian Oberthür and two anonymous reviewers for their extremely helpful suggestions, and Julian Cockbain for his language editing.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences, Centre for Ethics and HumanismFree University of Brussels (VUB)BrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences, Centre for Ethics and HumanismFree University of Brussels (VUB)BrusselBelgium
  3. 3.Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences, Bioethics Institute GhentGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  4. 4.Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences, Centre for Ethics and HumanismFree University of Brussels (VUB)BrusselsBelgium

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