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ECPR

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Rethinking Ecological Justice: Capabilities and Critics

David Schlosberg
University of Sydney
David Schlosberg
University of Sydney

Abstract

This paper contributes to an ongoing conversation about the applicability of the capabilities approach to justice to the non-human realm. Capabilities offers a way to frame justice not only to individual human beings and their communities, and not just to individual animals, but to ecological systems as well. In contrast to an animal rights approach, and distinct from consideration of the environment as an instrumental ‘meta-capability’ for human justice, I argue for a justice to nature outside of the bounds of human needs. In response to fears of the potential for irreconcilable conflicts between subjects of justice, I refute the premise of some perceived conflicts and offer a deliberative approach to addressing others. The provision of justice for both human and non-human alike is dependent on a broad conception of capabilities, including recognition of our relationship with and impact on the non-human world and a democratic practice of ecological reflexivity.