Public Provision of Environmental Goods: Neutrality or Sustainability? A Reply to David Miller

Environmental Politics 14 (5):577-595 (2005)
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Abstract
Theorists of liberal neutrality, including in this context David Miller, claim that it is unjust for environmental policy to privilege a particular conception of the good by appealing to normative principles derived from any substantive conception of human flourishing. However, analysis of Miller's arguments reveals the inability of procedural justice thus understood to adequately engage with the complex and contested issue of the relationship between human beings and the rest of the world. Miller's attempt to distinguish categories of public goods generally, and environmental goods in particular, according to the possibility of reasonable disagreement, is seriously flawed. It results in an inability to distinguish between want-regarding and ideal-regarding justifications for the public provision of environmental goods, and more generally, an inability to recognise ecological sustainability as an important aspect of the common good. Effective environmental policy is not rendered illegitimate or unjust by incompatibility with liberal neutrality.
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