Automobility, liberalism, and the ethics of driving

Environmental Ethics 29 (1):77-90 (2007)

S. C. Rajan
Indian Institute of Technology, Madras
Automobility, or the myriad institutions that foster car culture, has rarely if ever been put under the lens of liberal political theory, even though driving is one of the most common and widely accepted features of daily life in modern societies. When its implied promise of guaranteeing both freedom and equality is examined more closely, however, it appears that the ethical implications of driving may be darker than initially supposed. Automobility may indeed be in violation of both the Kantian categorical imperative and Gewirth’s principle of generic consistency, even though there has thus far been remarkably little ethical analysis to reveal these possibilities. It is conceivable that liberal political theory has turned a blind eye to automobility precisely because the latter has naturalized us into accepting what Roberto Unger has called a routine of “false necessity,” so that driving is now virtually imperceptible as a social fact worthy of critical analysis
Keywords Applied Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0163-4275
DOI 10.5840/enviroethics200729130
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