Sustainability Ethics

15 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2010 Last revised: 30 May 2014

Date Written: August 10, 2010


The paper examines the ethical dimension of sustainability. I start with an analysis of the modern concept of sustainability and demonstrate its inherent ethical meaning. This ethical meaning is connected to the specific relational meaning of the concept, which refers to fundamental relationships of the human being: its relation to other contemporaries, future generations, and nature. I argue that the resulting ethical challenges of sustainability are rather complex and new ones, and that we need a specific approach of sustainability ethics in order to analyze these challenges adequately. I develop such an approach of sustainability ethics, which is inspired by virtue ethics, ethics of care, and critical theory, and refers to both the specific individual and systemic ethical challenges of sustainability. I discuss ethical implications for individual morality as well as for the development of global systems such as science, technology, and the economy. I finally reconsider the potential of academics to properly address the issue of sustainability, and suggest a new type of sustainability research which integrates ethical analysis and philosophical reflection.

Keywords: Sustainability, philosophy, virtue ethics, systemic ethics, sustainable person, sustainability science

Suggested Citation

Becker, Christian U., Sustainability Ethics (August 10, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Christian U. Becker (Contact Author)

Colorado State University ( email )

College of Business
Fort Collins, CO 80526
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics