Norton and Sustainability as Such

  • Paul B. ThompsonEmail author
Part of the The International Library of Environmental, Agricultural and Food Ethics book series (LEAF, volume 26)


Bryan Norton takes the debate over weak and strong sustainability to characterize the key conceptual disagreement among attempts to elaborate a theoretical approach to sustainability. In contrast, I argue that this debate is mired within assumptions of economic development theory that fail to recognize how elements of fragility, stability, resilience and adaptive capability within system design or organization have been material to the way that sustainability has been conceptualized in many domains. Two paradigmatic conceptualizations of sustainability compete within the scholarly literature, one stressing the availability of key resource stocks, the other stressing the robustness and resilience of system organization. A better approach would move beyond weak and strong sustainability to acknowledge a deeper and more philosophically potent set of paradigmatic features within sustainability scholarship.


Resources Natural capital Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Resilience Systems thinking 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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