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date: 19 November 2017

Abstract and Keywords

The concept of sustainability has become an important—and contested—term in politics prior to its being given a clear, academic meaning, resulting in disciplinary turf wars over defining the term. The conflict, with mainly economists on one side and ecologists and philosophers on the other, has centered on the difference between “strong” and “weak” sustainability. Weak sustainability requires only the protection of wealth across generations, while strong sustainability requires also the protection of ecophysical features of the environment. It is shown that weak sustainability, and solutions meant to achieve it, when applied to the parable of the tragedy of the commons, cannot protect resources whether owned or held in common. A communitarian approach, joined with an idea of communities as multigenerational entities and a commitment to a deliberative process seeking sustainability, can track a path toward strong sustainability.

Keywords: sustainability, sustainable development, common-pool resources, resilience, communitarianism, Parfit’s Paradox, economic overexploitation, opportunity freedom

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