Ethics & the Environment, Volume 5, Number 1, Spring 2000
Environmental Discourse and Sustainable Development: Linkages and Limitations
M. Shamsul Haque
In the development field, one of the major shortcomings of mainstream development theories
and models is their relative indifference toward environmental concerns. However, the
worsening environmental catastrophes and the growing environmental consciousness led to the
emergence of a new model of development known as "sustainable development." The proponents
of sustainable development tend to explore the environmental costs of development activities,
prescribe environment-friendly policies, suggest institutional and legal measures for
environmental protection, and publicize the principles of sustainability through international
forums and publications. Despite this recognition of environment-development relationship,
the model of sustainable development suffers from certain serious shortcomings that need to
be addressed. This article begins with a brief discussion on various forms of environmental
challenges to development, followed by an analysis of how the model of sustainable development
articulates the environment-development linkages in both practical and intellectual terms.
The final section of the paper critically examines the major limitations of the model in
dealing with the environmental question, and makes some suggestions in this regard.
Of Sustainability and Precaution: The Logical, Epistemological, and Moral Problems of the
Precautionary Principle and Their Implications for Sustainable Development
William J. McKinney and H. Hamner Hill
From the convening of the Bruntland Commission in 1983 to the United Nations Conference
on Environment and Development and beyond, sustainable development has been on of the
core issues facing environmental ethicists and policymakers. The challenge facing both
policymakers and ethicists has been to ascertain the proper formulation and implementation
of sustainable development practices either within the present global market economy or
within a new, more ecological paradigm. This analysis, however, takes a slightly
Feminism and Environmental Ethics: A Materialist Perspective
There is a long-standing claim within feminist literature that women speak with a
'different voice' (Gilligan 1982), that it is both possible and desirable to have an
ethics from the standpoint of women (Noddings 1990), that the standpoint of women is
a better starting point for adequate knowledge of the world (Harding 1993). This
claim is central to ecofeminist politics, that women have a particular perspective on
the relationship between humanity and nature and have a moral/political calling to
reweave the world (Diamond and Orenstein 1990) or heal the wounds of an ecologically
destructive social order (Plant 1989). In this essay I will not be making the claim
that women per se have a superior vision or a higher moral authority, but that an
ethics that does not take account of the gendered nature of society is doomed to
failure as it will confront neither the material structure of human society or the
way in which that structure impacts on the materiality of the relationship between
humanity and nature.
Environmental Antinomianism: The Moral World Turned Upside Down?
In rejecting the ethical authority of those social institutions that attempt to define
and impose norms of belief and behavior, radical environmentalism has many parallels
with past antinomian protests. It is characterized by a 'hermeneutics of suspicion'
directed towards the establishment in all its forms and extending to all its attempts
to 'lay down the law.' Those nomothetic models which represent environmentalists as,
(a) seeking to extend current legal/bureaucratic frameworks to 'nature,' or
(b) drawing moral conclusions from 'natural laws' are guilty of ignoring radical
environmentalism's antinomian ethos.