The Dark Side of Sustainability: Avoiding and Shortening Lives in the Anthropocene

Author/s Marcello Di Paola, MirKo Daniel Garasic
Publishing Year 2014 Issue 2013/2 Language English
Pages 23 P. 59-81 File size 656 KB
DOI 10.3280/RISS2013-002004
DOI is like a bar code for intellectual property: to have more infomation click here

Below, you can see the article first page

If you want to buy this article in PDF format, you can do it, following the instructions to buy download credits

Article preview

FrancoAngeli is member of Publishers International Linking Association, Inc (PILA), a not-for-profit association which run the CrossRef service enabling links to and from online scholarly content.

In this paper, we critically rehearse the morality of avoiding and shortening the lives of present and future consumers in order to decrease humanity’s impact on global eco-systems and spare scarce natural resources in the Anthropocene. Our main objective is not originality, but rather providing a short tour of some relatively unexplored recesses of moral reflection, as it tackles practices of sustainability that may not accord easily with our wishes about what life in our own geological epoch should have been like. We shall discuss these practices only as moral options to be embraced by individuals voluntarily, out of a sense of obligation (or perhaps also in pursuit of various benefits that may be offered as positive incentives) - not as coerced, mandatory activities imposed on individuals by some agents, such as governments.

Keywords: Antrhropocene, moral reflection, present and futures consumers, shortening and avoiding lives.

  1. Bostrom N. (2005). Recent Developments in the Ethics, Science, and Politics of Life Extension. Ageing Horizons, 3: 28-33.
  2. Amarasekara K. and Bagaric M. (2004). Moving from Voluntary Euthanasia to Nonvoluntary Euthanasia: Equality and Compassion. Ratio Juris, 17: 398-423. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9337.2004.00275.x
  3. Baer P., Athanasiou T., Kartha S., and Kemp-Benedict E. (2010). Greenhouse Development Rights: A Framework for Climate Protection That is “More Fair” Than Equal Per Capita Emissions Rights. In: Jamieson D., Shue H., Caney S., Gardiner S. (eds) (2010). Climate Ethics: Essential Readings. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 215-230
  4. Brock D. (1988). Justice and the Severely Demented Elderly. The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 13: 73-99. DOI: 10.1093/jmp/13.1.73
  5. Brock D. (2002). Voluntary Active Euthanasia. The Hastings Center Report, 22: 10-22. DOI: 10.2307/3562560
  6. Broome J. (1994). Discounting the Future. Philosophy & Public Affairs, 23: 128-56. DOI: 10.1111/j.1088-4963.1994.tb00008.x
  7. Broome J. (2004). Weighing Lives. Oxford: Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/019924376X.001.0001
  8. Broome J. (2005). Should We Value Population?. Journal of Political Philosophy, 13, 4: 399-413. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9760.2005.00230.x
  9. Broome J. (2012). Climate Matters. New York: WW Norton and Company.
  10. Callahan D. (1987). Setting Limits: Medical Goals in an Aging Society. New York: Simon and Shuster.
  11. Callahan D. (1990). What Kind of Life: The Limits of Medical Progress. Washington DC: Georgetown University Press.
  12. Cowen T. (1992). Consequentialism Implies a Zero Rate of Intergenerational Discount. In: Laskett P. and Fishkin J. (eds.) (1992). Justice Between Age Groups and Generations. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  13. Crutzen P., and Stoermer E. (2000). The ‘Anthropocene’. Global Change Newsletter, 41: 17-18. DOI: 10.1038/415023a
  14. Crutzen P. (2002). Geology of Mankind. Nature, 415 (6867): 23.
  15. De Grey A. (2007). Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs that Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
  16. Di Paola M. and Pellegrino G. (2012). Sospensione riproduttiva temporanea: etica delle popolazioni e cambiamento climatico. Iride, XXV, 65, 1: 57-76.
  17. Di Paola M. (2013). Environmental Stewardship, Moral Psychology, and Gardens. Environmental Values, 22 (4): 503-521. DOI: 10.3197/096327113X13690717320784.
  18. Di Paola M. (2014). Virtues for the Anthropocene. Forthcoming in Environmental Values – available at
  19. Durbin P. (2010). Toward a Philosophy of Biotechnology: An Essay. Ludus Vitalis, XVIII, 33: 173-186.
  20. Golini A. (2003). La popolazione del pianeta. Bologna: il Mulino.
  21. Hamkins J. and Montero B. (2000a). Utilitarianism in Infinite Worlds. Utilitas, 12, 1: 91-96. DOI: 10.1017/S0953820800002648
  22. Hamkins J. and Montero B. (2000b). With Infinite Utility, More Needn't be Better. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 78, 2: 231-240. DOI: 10.1080/00048400012349511
  23. Hardwig J. (1996). Dying at the Right Time: Reflections on Assisted and Unassisted Suicide. In: LaFollette H. (ed.). Ethics in Practice. New York: Blackwell.
  24. Hardwig J. (1997). Is There a Duty to Die?. Hastings Center Report, 27: 34-42. DOI: 10.2307/3527626
  25. Hauskeller M. (2013). Better Humans? Understanding the Enhancement Project. Durham: Acumen Publishing.
  26. Jamieson D. (1996). Ethics and Intentional Climate Change. Climatic Change, 33: 323-336. DOI: 10.1007/BF00142580
  27. Kagan S. (2012). Death. Yale: Yale University Press.
  28. Kupfer J. (1990). Suicide: Its Nature and Moral Evaluation. Journal of Value Inquiry, 24: 67-81. DOI: 10.1007/BF00150575
  29. Moellendorf D. (2009). Global Inequality Matters. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. DOI: 10.1057/9780230246904
  30. Muller-Busch H. C., Oduncu F.S., Woskanjan S. and Klaschik E. (2004). Attitudes on euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide and terminal sedation – A survey of the members of the German Association for Palliative Medicine. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, 7: 333-339. DOI: 10.1007/s11019-004-9349-9
  31. Mulgan T. (2002). Transcending the Infinite Utility Debate. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 80, 2: 164-177. DOI: 10.1017/UPO9781844654895
  32. Mulgan T. (2012). Ethics for a Broken World. Durham: Acumen.
  33. Nelson M. T. (1991). Utilitarian Eschatology. American Philosophical Quarterly, 91, 4: 339-347.
  34. O’Neill O. (2002) Autonomy and Trust in Bioethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511606250
  35. Parfit D. (1984). Reasons and Persons. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  36. Pellegrino G. (2007). Generazioni future e libertà riproduttiva. Filosofia e questioni pubbliche, 12, 1: 31-50.
  37. Pellegrino G. (2007). Libertà riproduttiva e obblighi generali nei confronti delle generazioni future. Filosofia e questioni pubbliche, 12, 1: 151-163,
  38. The Royal Society (2009). Geoengineering the Climate: Science, Governance and Uncertainty. Available at: (consultato il 5/02/2012).
  39. Sagoff M. (1997). Do We Consume Too Much?. Available at
  40. Shue H. (2010) Subsistence Emissions and Luxury Emissions. In: Jamieson D., Shue H., Caney S., Gardiner S. (eds.). Climate Ethics: Essential Readings. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 200-214.
  41. Singer P. (1972). Famine, Affluence, and Morality. Philosophy and Public Affairs, 1 (1): 229-243.
  42. Stoylesh B. and Costreie S. (2013). Rethinking Voluntary Euthanasia. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 38: 674-695. DOI: 10.1093/jmp/jht045
  43. Unger P. (1996). Living High and Letting Die: Our Illusion of Innocence. New York: Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/0195108590.001.0001
  44. Vallentyne P. and Kagan S. (1997). Infinite Value and Finitely Additive Value Theory. Journal of Philosophy, 94, 1: 5-26. DOI: 10.2307/2941011
  45. Zalasiewicz J. et al. (2010). The New World of the Anthropocene. Environment Science & Technology, 44 (7): 2228-2231. DOI: 10.1021/es903118j
  46. Zalasiewicz J. et al. (2011). Stratigraphy of the Anthropocene. Philosophical Transactions: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 369(1938): 1036-1055.

  • Guantanamo and Other Cases of Enforced Medical Treatment Mirko Daniel Garasic, pp.19 (ISBN:978-3-319-22652-1)

Marcello Di Paola, MirKo Daniel Garasic, The Dark Side of Sustainability: Avoiding and Shortening Lives in the Anthropocene in "RIVISTA DI STUDI SULLA SOSTENIBILITA'" 2/2013, pp 59-81, DOI: 10.3280/RISS2013-002004