Edited by Subhash C. Jain and Ben L. Kedia
Chapter 3: Globalization, Environmental Sustainability, and System Equilibrium
John Alexander INTRODUCTION: THE PROBLEM OF SYSTEMIC CONSTRAINTS I think that it is impossible to rationally deny the evidence that, as we evolve into a one-world economic system, we are adversely affecting the environment resulting in normative issues concerning which policies and practices we should pursue. As Peter Singer has effectively argued, we need to understand the normative implications of operating in an interconnected economic/environmental system, where an action in one part has remoter effects in other parts (Singer, 1993, 2001, 2002, 2009). This understanding needs to be reflected in the systematic constraints that are placed on our operating in this system – particularly since so many of these remoter effects are negative. Since these systematic constraints reflect our core values, we must look to what core values we have. Core values are those values that we use to help us define who we are; they play a foundational role in developing our sense of self and social worth, and they help to define our culture or our design for living. In this chapter we will focus on the core values of profit-maximization and environmental sustainability. The core value of profit maximization is one of the primary filtering values through which we interpret the meaning and significance of the other values we hold dear. The normative problem is that if we continue to interpret environmental sustainability through the primarily filtering value of profit maximization, we will continue to make decisions and perform actions that are normatively less preferable than if we...
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