Human Ecology

, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 131–134 | Cite as

Environmental Values, Human Nature, and Economic Democracy

  • Gregory M. MikkelsonEmail author


Recent social science indicates that the public at large behave more ethically, and favor environmental protection more strongly, than do the wealthiest minority. Yet the latter group exerts predominant control over the economy. This suggests that shifting power away from this minority and onto the majority would yield a better ecology. In this paper I spell out the implications of these considerations for “economic democracy” (ED), a well-developed alternative to capitalism that shifts power from wealthy shareholders onto ordinary citizens and workers. I contrast this rationale for ED with some thinkers’ defense of “sustainable capitalism”, and with others’ ecological arguments for ED based on economic stability and self-interest, rather than ethical behavior per se.


Economic democracy Capitalism Economic growth Ethical behavior Environmental values 



For helpful feedback on the arguments presented in this paper I thank Michael Adamson, Darin Barney, Dror Etzion, Shaun Lovejoy, David Schweickart, fellow participants in a 2015 workshop on whether capitalism could become sustainable, fellow members of the Groupe de Recherche en Éthique Environnementale et Animale (GRÉEA), and fellow participants in the 2016 conference of the International Society for Environmental Ethics. For supporting the workshop and GRÉEA, I thank the Centre de Recherche en Éthique, funded in turn by the Fonds de Recherche du Québec – Société et Culture.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and School of EnvironmentMcGill UniversityMontréalCanada

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