Sustainability and the Currency of Intergenerational Obligations: Norton, Solow, Rawls, Mill, and Sen on Problems of Intergenerational Allocation

  • Clark WolfEmail author
Part of the The International Library of Environmental, Agricultural and Food Ethics book series (LEAF, volume 26)


Concepts of sustainability guide policy and environmental management decisions. But when goals are articulated badly, they provide poor decision guides, and may lead to serious mistakes. This paper reviews and critically evaluates a series of popular conceptions of ‘sustainability,’ with special focus on a conception advocated by Bryan Norton. While no conception of sustainability (not even Norton’s) is problem-free, we gain by understanding the limitations of each. Adaptive management, as I understand it here, is not a conception of sustainability, but a view about how conceptions of sustainability might be used in practical reasoning about policy or management.


Adaptive management Capability theory Environmental management Sustainability Intergenerational justice Sufficientarianism Resource management 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Philosophy, Political Science, and Sustainable AgricultureIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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