A Theory of Ecological Justice

By Brian Baxter | Go to book overview
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Institutional arrangements within states

The concerns of this book so far have been focused almost exclusively on issues of moral and political theory. We have sought to vindicate a universalist approach to moral theory in general and then to apply this approach to the generation of a theory of justice in the distribution of environmental resources among all species of organism on this planet. This theory of ecological justice has aimed to produce a case for encompassing all forms of living entity - from the 'merely' living to those creatures that appear to have achieved some of the elements of personhood which are most fully exemplified in the case of one species, Homo sapiens.

In the course of this discussion there have emerged various suggestions and implications for the ideal form of institutional arrangement which should be aimed at in order to pursue the goal of ecological justice. It will be useful to have before us a brief outline of the ideal theory before we consider what the possibilities are in the real world for the pursuit of ecological justice.

The ecological version of justice as impartiality argued for the inclusion of all organisms within the community of justice. This implies that, where a group of moral agents are establishing or revising a political system, and are seeking to find a set of basic political arrangements which all can agree to live under, by searching for those which are 'not reasonable to reject and so fair', then they are bound to consider the welfare interests of all the organisms which their activities can affect for good or ill.

We imagined a set of human proxies seeking to defend the weighted interests of the non-human within the constitutional design of the polity. As we have previously noted, this implies the reasonableness of a constitutional provision for the ongoing protection of the consideration of those interests. At a minimum this will require the constitutionally entrenched provision of some institution with the responsibility to ensure that the welfare interests of all the relevant non-human 'inarticulates' are presented within the polity's decision-making bodies, at central and local levels. This in turn will be a matter of enforcing with the polity's legal apparatus the application of a set of evaluative criteria for proposed courses of action of the kind which we elicited from Wetlesen's list in chapter 9.

The point of the constitutional provision, it will be recollected from our discussion of Bell's version of Rawlsian political liberalism, is to make ecological justice difficult to avoid, even though no force on earth can oblige a society to


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