Green Politics and Intergenerational Justice: Posterity, Progress and the Environment

  • John Barry


The significance of an account of justice for green politics lies in the fact that debates about environmental protection nearly always take place against a background of conflicting interests. One of the aims of a theory of justice is to adjudicate competing claims. Typically, this background is made up of those who wish to develop the environment and those who wish to preserve it from development. From the ecological point of view we live in a closed and limited environment upon which we are completely dependent, not just for resources needed to live, but also for the ‘good life’. Given this existential fact of the human condition, that we will never be in a position that all our possible wants and needs can be fulfilled, we may expect that concerns of distributive justice will be part of any post-capitalist social order, including a green or ecological one. It is clear that the realization of key green policy goals, particularly those which call for substantial institutional changes, are underpinned by considerations of justice which have international, domestic as well as intergenerational dimensions.1 In this sense any putative ‘green theory of distributive justice’ can be regarded as the most ambitious conception of justice to date.


Future Generation Distributive Justice Strong Sustainability Environmental Future Weak Sustainability 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barry, B., ‘The Ethics of Resource Depletion’, in his Liberty and Justice: Essays in Political Theory, vol. 1 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991).Google Scholar
  2. Beck, U., Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity (London: Sage, 1992).Google Scholar
  3. Beckerman, W., Small is Stupid (London: Duckworth, 1994).Google Scholar
  4. Clark, S., ‘Global Religion’, in R. Attfield and A. Belsey (eds), Philosophy and the Natural Environment, Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement no. 36 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).Google Scholar
  5. Daly, H., ‘The Steady-State Economy: Toward a Political Economy of Biophysical Equilibrium and Moral Growth’, in H. Daly (ed.), Toward a Steady-State Economy (New York: W. H. Freeman 1973).Google Scholar
  6. De-Shalit, A., Why Posterity Matters: Environmental Policies and Future Generations (London: Routledge, 1994).Google Scholar
  7. Dobson, A., Green Political Thought (London: Unwin Hyman, 1990).Google Scholar
  8. Latouche, S., In the Wake of the Affluent Society: An Exploration of Post-Development (London: Zed Books, 1993).Google Scholar
  9. Mill, J. S., Principles of Political Economy, vol. 2 (London: J. W. Parker, 1857).Google Scholar
  10. Nisbet, R., ‘Progress’, in D. Miller, J. Coleman, W. Connolly and A. Ryan (eds), The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991).Google Scholar
  11. O’Riordan, T., Environmentalism, 2nd edn (London: Pion, 1981).Google Scholar
  12. Passmore, J., Man’s Responsibility for Nature, 2nd edn (London: Duckworth, 1980).Google Scholar
  13. Passmore, J., ‘Conservation’, in E. Partridge (ed.), Responsibilities to Future Generations (New York: Prometheus Books, 1981).Google Scholar
  14. Pearce, D., Kerry-Turner, R., O’Riordan, T., Adger, N., Atkinson, G., Brisson, I., Brown, K., Dubourg, R., Frankhauser, S., Jordan, A., Maddison, D., and Powell, J., Blueprint 3: Measuring Sustainable Development (London: Earthscan, 1993).Google Scholar
  15. Rawls, J., A Theory of Justice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972).Google Scholar
  16. Sachs, W., ‘Global Ecology and the “Shadow” of Development’, in W. Sachs (ed.), Global Ecology (London: Zed Books, 1993).Google Scholar
  17. Simon, J., and Kahn, H. (eds), The Resourceful Earth: A Response to Global 2000 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1984).Google Scholar
  18. World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Press Ltd 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Barry

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations