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Title: Justice, environment and virtue in Martha Nussbaum's capabilities approach : an attempt to reconcile a capabilities-based account of justice with the concerns of the environmental movement through the application of virtue theory
Author: Newbrook, Alexander William
ISNI:       0000 0004 6497 3004
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2017
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Martha Nussbaum has produced a compelling account of how we might do justice to non-human animals, but in doing so she seems to have committed us to a project of ‘policing nature’, which appears to be at odds with many of the ethical commitments of the contemporary environmental movement. Intervening to make the circumstances of wild animals more conducive to their flourishing may be in accordance with the principles of Nussbaum’s capabilities approach, but it is at odds with the concerns of environmentalists who wish to ensure the functioning of ecosystems and the survival of species as an ethical imperative. Superficially, at least, it appears that one cannot endorse the capabilities approach and simultaneously be an environmentalist. In this thesis, I attempt to reconcile these two positions through appeal to the exercise of the virtues. While many of the premises of the capabilities approach and of the environmentalist accounts of ethics that I discuss are mutually exclusive, I suggest that an environmental virtue ethic, such as that described by Ronald Sandler, can justify many of the ethical stances that the environmentalist wishes us to adopt. In particular, characteristics of the virtue of humility can inform the agent as to why extending justice to wild animals is not a warranted course of action. I also apply virtue ethical considerations to the issues of species extinction and ecosystem destruction, areas in which the capabilities approach seems to offer little guidance. Thus, I propose augmenting our capabilities-based account of justice with an environmentally conscious appeal to the virtues in order to produce more consistent moral guidance with regard to the non-human world.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available