Sustainable development: Lost meaning and opportunity? [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 60 (1):17 - 27 (2005)
The term Sustainable Development has been used in many different contexts and consequently has come to represent many different ideas. The purpose of this paper was to explore the underlying meaning of the term Sustainable Development, and to assess the dominant ethic behind such meaning. Through this exploration, we uncovered a change in the semantic meaning of the term, and described what that meaning entails. The term Sustainable Development had the potential, we argue, to stimulate discursive engagement with respect to the future development of society within an ethical framework based around the values of inclusivity, diversity, and integration. The importance of philosophical context within which the term is used influences the definitional process of meaning, and has been simulated into the language of the dominant scientific-economic paradigm. We go on to explore how this meaning change has come about. In doing so we looked to the Enlightenment period and the resulting philosophies to explore the foundations of meaning, and then to the work of Jürgen Habermas to explain how the scientific-economic paradigm came to dominate the meaning of Sustainable Development.
Keywords Sustainable Development  Scientific-economic paradigm  philosophy  Habermas  Values  Relationships
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