Sustainability: A Philosophy of Adaptive Ecosystem Management


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How can we know what is important, what facts to gather, if we do not integrate our discussion of facts and values, as is done in everyday discourse and in policy discussions? Unfortunately, most formulations of the sustainability problem are driven by ideology.


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For example, environmental ethicists focus on the intrinsic value of nature, and welfare economists on the instrumental value of nature in sustaining human welfare over time. Both disciplines bring nonnegotiable assumptions and values to the table, couched in academic jargon. Both attempt to evaluate a complex array of values by a single criterion and frame the problem in a way that predetermines solution paths. These assumptions and values conflict, so no cooperation emerges and no progress is made toward sustainability.

To address these problems, Norton offers a philosophy of adaptive management that builds from three basic principles. First is experimentalism: all knowledge, both facts and values, must be tested by experience, ruling out non-negotiable ideological assertions. Second is multiscalar analysis: sustainability concerns changes that occur across different spatial and temporal scales, with different value systems emerging at these different scales. In particular, Norton distinguishes between a communal values relevant to intergenerational bequests and species survival and b economic values appropriate for short-term individual impacts.

Third is place sensitivity: the starting point for adaptive management must be locally grounded values about what is important to sustain for a given community. This emphasis on place sensitivity keeps Norton's discussion fairly abstract, as one cannot specify, independent of a specific community, precisely what needs to be sustained. Preserving valued options demands that we leave concrete physical resources for future generations i. This requires a hybrid approach to sustainability, in which the decision of what resources to leave takes precedence over economic reasoning and analysis.

As ecological economists wrongly accused by Norton of belonging to the weak-sustainability camp put it, a sustainable scale must be price determining, not price determined Daly and Farley Adaptive management is the active process required to achieve this goal. The need to assess multiple criteria and to integrate facts and values demands the participation of multiple disciplines along with representative community stakeholders.

Everyone from a given community who is interested in sustainability must come to the table to discuss precisely what that community needs to sustain, abandoning beforehand all a priori assumptions and bringing with them a commitment to experimentalism. A major challenge is to overcome the barriers to communication, achieved by abandoning academic jargon facilitated by discussing real problems and communicating in plain language, in which there are no artificial distinctions between facts and values.

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Even if participants fail to agree on ultimate goals, they can agree on initial actions that contribute to a variety of different goals. Action tests both facts and values and provides new information. Reflection on the outcomes of action through continued debate leads to new actions. It is this iterative process of action and reflection, empirical testing of both facts and values in a process of social learning, that constitutes adaptive management. I strongly agree with Norton's analysis of the problem and the democratic adaptive management process he proposes, but some serious issues remain unresolved.

Frank C.


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Krysiak - - Journal of Business Ethics 85 S3 - Evans , A. Burkhardt - - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 22 2 Ecosystem Sustainability as a Criterion for Genuine Virtue. Louke van Wensveen - - Environmental Ethics 23 3 A Reply to My Critics. Norton - - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 20 4 Added to PP index Total views 44 , of 2,, Recent downloads 6 months 3 , of 2,, How can I increase my downloads?

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Bryan Norton | Center for Humans & Nature

No keywords specified fix it. Science and Values in General Philosophy of Science categorize this paper. Applied ethics. History of Western Philosophy. Normative ethics. Philosophy of biology. Philosophy of language. By implication, "every community might come up with a different definition" Norton, B. But what precisely differentiates this form of "contextualism" from relativism? If the localities are the principal actors in defining sustainability, then is there any basis for external criticism? Moreover, what can we do if a community adopts an unsuitable idea of sustainability and related insustainable practices in cases where grand-scale cooperation between local communities, either at national or international level or both, is required?

Is Norton's approach applicable to solve problems which cannot be reduced to a local scale and that local communities tend to neglect, or even ignore, and which require cooperation between different communities and beyond, between different countries on a planetary scale?

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Finally, can environmental policies afford to dispense with universal principles? Should not fighting global warming, for example—a subject which Norton remarkably hardly mentions in all of the pages of Sustainability —necessarily involve the development of a global community concept 6? Light A. Katz Eds. Norton B. Environmental Ethics and Nonhuman Rights, Environ. Ethics, 4, 17—36, a. Ethics, 4, — Environmental Ethics andWeak Anthropocentrism, Environ. Ethics, 8, — Why Preserve Natural Variety?

tornado.burnsforce.com/toyota-camry-manual-de-dueos-2014.php Princeton, Princeton University Press. Ecology and Opportunity. Searching for Sustainability.

Duplicate citations

Oksanen M. Sustainability: A Book Review, Environ. Value, 16, — Epistemology and Environmental Values, The Monist, 2, , —, Where DoWe Go from Here? Ethics, 4, —58, Hannon], in: Philosophy and Geography. Philosophy of Place, Vol.


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Pragmatism, Adaptive Management, and Sustainability, Environ. Callicott JB. Ethics, 18, — Elliott K. Ethics, 1, 3—22, Hickman LA. Holly M. A Review of Bryan G. Preston C. Steverson B.

Environmentalism as Adaptive Management

Ethics, 2, — Saner, M. Stenmark M.

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Thompson P. Welchman J. Westra L. Ethics, 3, — In response to those who consider thatspecies in danger of imminent extinction cannot be protected if they are without any commercial utility, unless the argument of the intrinsic value of biodiversity is put forward, Norton emphasises that it is not because a species cannot prove its economic or industrial value that it has none. Norton seeks to demonstrate that it is possible to recognise a utilitarian value to biodiversity for its own sake, without having to take into account the specific characteristics of members of the species or of its population as a whole—a value that would therefore be situated beyond any known or demonstrable value, but would still not be an intrinsic value.

In this way, it would be possible to dispense with a case by case value justification for each species, without having to transcend the domain of human utility. He was an active member of the well-known governmental Environmental Protection Agency, where he served from to on the Science Advisory Board and co-authored the annual Risk Assessment Forum report, from which arose the first evaluation protocols for Ecological Risk Assessment in the United States.

He also participated in the work of several no less well-known NGOs, in particular sitting as an elected member of the Governing Board of the Society for Conservation Biology to and of the Board of Directors of Defenders of Wildlife, to An Introduction to the Work of Bryan G. S [Online], 1. A multidisciplinary journal devoted to the study of interactions between environment and society. Abstract In the space of only a few years, Bryan Norton has become one of the essential actors of environmental ethics through his launching of what has become one of its dominant trends: environmental pragmatism.

Editor's notes Reviewed by J-Y.

Sustainability: A Philosophy of Adaptive Ecosystem Management Sustainability: A Philosophy of Adaptive Ecosystem Management
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Sustainability: A Philosophy of Adaptive Ecosystem Management Sustainability: A Philosophy of Adaptive Ecosystem Management
Sustainability: A Philosophy of Adaptive Ecosystem Management Sustainability: A Philosophy of Adaptive Ecosystem Management
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