The Rock Ethics Institute



The module describes various ethical issues that often need to be faced in implementing sustainable development programs.  The module begins with the core idea of sustainable development; that since environmental, economic, and equity and problems and issues are interrelated, their solutions must be integrated. Sustainable development should be understood as an "orienting" concept that directs thinking toward the need to integrate certain concerns, but does not contain final rules about how conflicts between environmental, economic, and social concerns should be resolved. The module asserts that potential conflicts between environmental, economic, and equity concerns must be resolved through appeal to other ethical rules not contained in the concept of sustainable development and that the further ethical analyses need to be grounded in an empirical assessment of the issues. 

Ethical issues that should be covered include:

  1. Values conflicts between environmental, economic, and social goals (greening versus development)
  2. Utility versus deontology versus justice
  3. Rhetorical constructions of obligations… focus more on sustaining or developing
  4. Problems of future generation’s interests
  5. Scientific uncertainty issues
    • Burden of proof
    • Quantity of proof
  6. Distinguishing factual statements from ethical questions