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Sustainability as Opportunity

Richard B. Howarth
Land Economics
Vol. 73, No. 4, Defining Sustainability (Nov., 1997), pp. 569-579
DOI: 10.2307/3147246
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3147246
Page Count: 11
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Sustainability as Opportunity
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Abstract

This paper explores the relationship between sustainability concepts and contractarian principles of distributional fairness. A commitment to equality of opportunity between contemporaries entails that life opportunities should be nondiminishing from generation to generation. Defining sustainability as nondeclining utility is analytically suggestive but practically problematic given the uncertainties that surround future preferences and technologies. Life opportunities may be sustained, however, by providing future generations with specific endowments of reproduced capital, technological capacity, natural resources, and environmental quality. In this setting, capital-resource substitutions are defensible only if there is compelling evidence that they would benefit both present and future generations.

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