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date: 30 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

When we conceive of “freedom” as the absence of limitations, it is easy to associate green politics with coercion and restriction. This troubling linkage frames environmentalism as hostile to freedom as such, and even leads many green theorists to doubt its relevance to environmental political theory. Is this, however, a narrow way of thinking about the concept of freedom and its relationship to environmentalism? Can freedom be greened to enhance ways of life that advance environmental goals? There are good reasons to think that it can. Green concepts of freedom not only offer salient critiques of ecologically destructive modes of freedom, they also open up creative aspirations to live autonomously and meaningfully within ecological constraints. Ignoring the potential of freedom as a productive concept in environmental political theory overlooks powerful sources of motivation, experimentation, and political resonance. Green theorists should therefore work with, and not avoid, discourses of freedom in order to explore visions of individual, social, and ecological flourishing.

Keywords: freedom, necessity, limits, absence of limitations, ecological context, authoritarianism, relational freedom, creativity

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