Ecological Limits: Science, Justice, Policy, and the Good Life

Fergus Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Recent years have witnessed a revival of scientific, political and philosophical discourse concerning the notion of ecological limits. This article provides a conceptual overview of descriptive ecological limit claims—i.e. claims that there are real, biophysical limits—and reviews work in political and social philosophy in which such claims form the basis of proposals for normative limits. The latter are classified in terms of three broad types of normative theorising: distributive justice, institutional/legal reform, and the good life. Within these three categories, the article reviews normative proposals for limits on both aggregate-level and individual-level ecological exploitation. It also considers the relevance of political and ideological facts to the normative analysis of ecological limits, raising methodological questions about how normative theorists should respond to a world facing escalating ecological challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12740
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalPhilosophy Compass
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


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