chapter  4
A second green critique
Pages 33

There is, however, an alternative means of developing a green critique of Rawls that involves considering the just institutions of a well-ordered society (the good, or ‘what’, of intergenerational justice) as representative of a more enlightened theory of light green environmental justice that is closer to a modern theory of ‘liberalized stewardship’. This chapter differs from the previous insomuch as the literature covered (with perhaps the exception of Hailwood) neither attempts to dismiss, nor even modify, Rawls’s theory, in an attempt to green political liberalism. So far, the consensus again appears to be that only a minimalistic, light green theory of environmental justice can be extracted from justice as fairness. Some theorists, however, allude to the idea that his theory could well be analogous to a darker green notion of environmental justice that although does not go as far as a embodying the key tenets of ‘ecological justice’, it would indeed be representative of something altogether more enlightened. Greening Rawls in this way, however, must be understood as forming part of a wider process of attempting to liberalize the concept of environmental stewardship itself. The key challenge faced by contemporary proponents of the concept is to offer a transpolitical, or ‘higher’, good of intergenerational justice, that will compel individuals to make sacrifices to their freedoms, at various levels, in order to elevate the protection of wider nature on a par with Rawls’s two principles of justice. The main aim of this chapter will be to demonstrate how recent developments in the literature on environmental stewardship have stumbled, unwittingly, upon similarities between a liberalized version of the concept and the key tenets of Rawls’s political liberalism. What we are left with in following this alternative method, however, is a marked tension between the separation argument that leaves citizens free to decide for themselves why they should protect wider nature in postOP deliberations (the liberal OP) and a much more conservative reading of Rawls’s notion of a well-ordered society that endures from one generation to the next (the conservative principle of just savings). The focus of this chapter is therefore to trace recent developments in the literature on environmental stewardship, and the ability of the concept to overcome its inherent belief in the human dominion of wider nature (that is, what we now recognize as a shallowly instrumentalist attitude).