Fergus Green

Published On


Page Range

pp. 335–360


  • English

Print Length

26 pages

13. Ecological Limits: Science, Justice, Policy, and the Good Life

Recent years have witnessed a revival of scientific, political and philosophical discourse concerning the notion of ecological limits. This article provides a conceptual overview of descriptive ecological limit claims—i.e. claims that there are real, biophysical limits—and reviews work in political and social philosophy in which such claims form the basis of proposals for normative limits. The latter are classified in terms of three broad types of normative theorising: distributive justice, institutional/legal reform, and the good life. Within these three categories, the article reviews normative proposals for limits on both aggregate‐level and individual‐level ecological exploitation. It also considers the relevance of political and ideological facts to the normative analysis of ecological limits, raising methodological questions about how normative theorists should respond to a world facing escalating ecological challenges.


Fergus Green

Lecturer in Political Theory & Public Policy in the Department of Political Science at University College London

Fergus Green is a Lecturer in Political Theory & Public Policy in the Department of Political Science, University College London. He works on the politics, governance and ethics of low-carbon transitions—including the “just transition” agenda, fossil fuel supply, and Green New Deal-style policy programmes. He has published in academic journals ranging from Nature Climate Change to the Journal of Political Philosophy, and has written numerous policy papers. Before joining UCL, Fergus completed a PhD in political theory in the LSE Department of Government followed by postdoctoral research at Utrecht University.