Examining the issues of ethics and justice as they apply to the environment, this book starts from the observation that the parallel expositions of environmental ethics and environmental justice appear to have few points of contact. Environmental justice is highly politicized and concerned with human access to the environment and the unequal exposure to environmental pollution. It grew out of the US civil rights movement, the liberal tradition of rights, and Rawls’ description of justice as fairness. It is thus almost exclusively anthropocentric, and does not address the question of justice for the environment. By contrast environmental ethical studies are a wide ranging collection of approaches that are concerned with caring for the earth, and the justifications for it, but rarely consider the issue of justice. Although the two movements do not come together at the theoretical level, they do so at the grass roots activist level. An essential component of this study is thus to consider both the issues of grass roots action, and the application of the methods to actual case studies.
This book finds a common ground between these two strands and so to develop a unified statement of justice for the environment that includes the insights of both approaches, particularly based on the 'capability ideas of justice' developed by Martha Nussbaum.