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Sustainability as Opportunity
Richard B. Howarth
Vol. 73, No. 4, Defining Sustainability (Nov., 1997), pp. 569-579
Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3147246
Page Count: 11
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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.
Land Economics © 1997 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System