GRÉEA’s online presentations: #1 – Rafael Ziegler, “Can justice respect needs and nature? The idea of a nature-respecting sufficiency”

General information

From May to July, the GRÉEA is inviting its geographically distant members, or those who have not yet had the opportunity to present their work, to discuss their research through videoconferencing/online discussion. To participate to one of these meeting, please, contact Sophia Rousseau-Mermans, GRÉEA’s coordinator.

#1 – Rafael Ziegler, University of Greifswald, Institute of Botany and Landscape Ecology, “Can justice respect needs and nature? The idea of a nature-respecting sufficiency” | May 19, 2020 @12:30 pm

The draft article is available on request


Sustainability discussions are motivated by two important sufficiency considerations: a focus on basic needs and on those most in need reaching a social minimum; and a focus on limits to production and consumption with a view to global unsustainability. This ‘double sufficiency’ calls for the joint exploration of a minimum threshold as a central requirement of justice along with the idea of justice demanding respect for limits to resource use. The intuitive appeal of ‘double sufficiency’ derives from both aspects of sufficiency, and its urgency from the manifest failure to respect either one of them in current politics. Beyond such initial appeal, ‘double sufficiency’ is in need of clarification and justification. This paper presents the outline of a nature-respecting, capabilitarian conception. Its starting point is the dignity of all living beings and their central capabilities. In addition, the conception recognizes the role of moral agency via a priority principle of self-preservation. For both agency and patiency, the positional and quasi-positional nature of central capabilities plays an important role orienting intrinsic and instrumental reasons for an equal distribution. Far from being indifferent about distribution above a sufficiency threshold, this conception of sufficiency focuses on resources needed for living in dignity but demands that resource use above this threshold has to be justified. Thus we arrive at a nature-respecting sufficiency.