Aristotle, Foucault, and Progressive Phronesis: Outline of an Applied Ethics for Sustainable Development
Planning Theory, no. 7-8, Summer-Winter 1992, pp. 65-83.
15 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2016 Last revised: 23 Mar 2016
Date Written: 1992
We live in an unprecedented era for humankind. Recently, for the first time ever, have the actions of people become a threat to their life on a global scale. This is not only through nuclear disasters that may or may not happen but through changes in the global ecology that are happening. Earlier, on a human time scale the continuance or life on the planet was considered a constant rather than a question mark. No wonder, then, it has been said we live in a post-era: post-rational, post enlightenment, post-modern, post-foundationalist, post-structuralist. If any one phenomenon distinguishes the start or a new era and a post-condition, it is this: humans' newly achieved ability to effectively destroy their own sustenance. The world has become post-immortal; not in the sense that human life on the planet is necessarily mortal on the scale of human history, but rather that there is no longer any assurance of its immortality. We live in a world-aI-risk, where life has become contingent upon our own actions. In this unique situation the need has never been greater to skillfully pose, answer, and act upon simple value-rational questions like the following: (a) Where are we going? (b) Who gains, who loses? (c) Is this development desirable? (d) What should be done?
Keywords: Aristotle, Foucault, phronesis, applied ethics, sustainable development
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