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Hardcover | $34.00 Short | £27.95 | 312 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 1 b&w illus. | March 2017 | ISBN: 9780262036009
eBook | $24.00 Short | March 2017 | ISBN: 9780262339094
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Living Well Now and in the Future

Why Sustainability Matters


Most people acknowledge the profound importance of sustainability, but few can define it. We are ethically bound to live sustainably for the sake of future generations, but what does that mean? In this book Randall Curren, a philosopher, and Ellen Metzger, a scientist, clarify normative aspects of sustainability. Combining their perspectives, they propose that sustainability can be understood as the art of living well together without diminishing opportunity to live well in the future.

Curren and Metzger lay out the nature and value of sustainability, survey the problems, catalog the obstacles, and identify the kind of efforts needed to overcome them. They formulate an ethic of sustainability with lessons for government, organizations, and individuals, and illustrate key ideas with three case studies. Curren and Metzger put intergenerational justice at the heart of sustainability; discuss the need for fair (as opposed to coercive) terms of cooperation to create norms, institutions, and practices conducive to sustainability; formulate a framework for a fundamental ethic of sustainability derived from core components of common morality; and emphasize the importance of sustainability education. The three illustrative case studies focus on the management of energy, water, and food systems, examining the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Australia’s National Water Management System, and patterns of food production in the Mekong region of Southeast Asia.

About the Authors

Randall Curren is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Rochester.

Ellen Metzger is Professor of Geology and Director of Science Education at San Jose State University and Codirector of the Bay Area Environmental STEM Institute.


“Science and philosophy come together to weave magic in this exploration of what sustainability means and how we can achieve it.”
Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, cofounder of the Blue Planet Project; 2008-2009 Senior Advisor on Water to the 63rd President of the United Nations General Assembly
“A rare intertwining of philosophical, empirical, and institutional analysis illuminates the issues for everyone concerned with sustainability—as we all must be. The authors have produced a truly interdisciplinary study that will be essential reading for a long time to come.”
Harry Brighouse, Professor of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin-Madison
“Perhaps it should be no surprise that when a philosopher and a geologist collaborate, the resulting book is both deep and wide. Living Well Now and in the Future succeeds in integrating fields such as philosophy, psychology, and educational, environmental, and political studies to develop a thought-provoking analysis, and a promising prescription, for overcoming the barriers to living well on this, humanity’s one and only home planet. I learned a lot from this book.”
Tim Kasser, Professor and Chair of Psychology, Knox College; author of The High Price of Materialism, coauthor of Meeting Environmental Challenges: The Role of Human Identity