Event paper Deposited for RESILIENCE, in Abstracts

(October 2012) Ethical roots of urban sustainability

Ethical roots of urban sustainability image
Urban areas are focal points of environmental pollution resulting from current production-consumption practices and lifestyles. Cities are the evils and victims of natural degradation at the same time. Urban environmental sustainability is a complex problem, with interlinked lines of causality (both in time and in space), ambiguous delimitations of responsibility bearers and beneficiaries, and different and conflicting levels of interests. In order to determine the desired directions of development and the preference orders of interests, first the underlying values of action need to be uncovered and reset if they prove to lead to unwanted ends.
Environmental ethics is a branch of philosophy that has evolved from the 1970's. It claims that ethics should be based on a new setting, and the working of the ecosystem should be regarded as a guideline for human interference with nature. It is argued whether this ethics is totally new or only an improvement of previous ethics, however, it should be taken into account when distinguishing between different ethical approaches towards urban sustainability.
This study attempts to get an insight into the environment related value sets and underlying ethics of urban decision makers. Based on the works of Rolston III, Frankena, Lemons and other philosophers of environmental ethics, it defines three groups of ethics: ethical egoism, humanism and ecologism and examines the prevalence of these ethics in the value sets of those responsible of urban planning. The paper will present the results of a preliminary empirical investigation within Hungarian towns, and hopefully will have results ready of a broader, Western-European survey.