Handbook of Research on Sustainable Consumption
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Handbook of Research on Sustainable Consumption

Edited by Lucia A. Reisch and John Thøgersen

This Handbook compiles the state of the art of current research on sustainable consumption from the world’s leading experts in the field. The implementation of sustainable consumption presents one of the greatest challenges and opportunities we are faced with today. On the one hand, consumption is a wanted and necessary phenomenon important for society and the economy. On the other, our means of consumption contradicts many important ecological and social long-term goals. Set against this background, the Handbook aims to offer an interdisciplinary overview of recent research on sustainable consumption, to draw attention to this subject and to encourage discussion and debate. In 27 chapters, leading authorities in the field provide their expertise in a concise and accessible manner.
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Chapter 7: Ethics and sustainable consumption

Lieske Voget-Kleschin, Christian Baatz and Konrad Ott


Ethics constitutes the subdiscipline of philosophy dedicated to the academic study of human practices, customs and conventions (Düwell et al. 2002). One way to describe philosophy is that it is concerned with reflections upon basic concerns within human life. Consuming things essentially belongs to human life. A philosophical-ethical perspective on sustainable consumption aims to make transparent the implicit and sometimes unquestioned assumptions behind arguments. This renders such assumptions accessible and subject to critique (see Ott et al. 2011). Sustainable development (SD) constitutes a leading model for contemporary societal development. Despite or probably because of this, the complex idea of SD has often been used as a catchphrase without specific meaning. Different parties interpret the concept according to their particular interests. Insofar as this is the case, the concept is no longer suited for guiding societal development. Therefore, to approach sustainable consumption from a philosophical-ethical perspective first of all necessitates delineating what we mean when we speak about SD (section 7.1). This then allows briefly specifying our notion of sustainable consumption (section 7.2).

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