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Cautious Utopias: Environmental goal-setting with long time frames
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2835-919X
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4063-3219
2015 (English)In: Ethics, Policy & Environment, ISSN 2155-0085, E-ISSN 2155-0093, Vol. 18, no 2, 187-201 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Sustainable development is a common goal in the public sector but may be difficult to implement due to epistemic uncertainties and required long time frames. This paper proposes that some of these problems can be solved by formulating cautious utopias, entailing a relationship between means and goals differing from both utopian and realistic goal-setting. Cautiously utopian goals are believed, but not certain, to be achievable and to remain desirable, but are open to future adjustments due to changing desires and/or factual circumstances. Quality criteria for such goals are suggested.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2015. Vol. 18, no 2, 187-201 p.
Keyword [en]
means-end relationship; planning; goal-setting; utopian goals; climate change; sustainable development
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Philosophy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-144914DOI: 10.1080/21550085.2015.1070487Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84938427229OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-144914DiVA: diva2:715363
Note

QC 20150629. QC 20160212

Available from: 2014-05-05 Created: 2014-05-05 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Sustainable Goals: Feasible Paths to Desirable Long-Term Futures
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Sustainable Goals: Feasible Paths to Desirable Long-Term Futures
2014 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The general aim of this licentiate thesis is to analyze the framework in which long-term goals are set and subsequently achieved. It is often claimed that goals should be realistic, meaning that they should be adjusted to known abilities. This thesis will argue that this might be very difficult in areas related to sustainable development and climate change adaptation, and that goals that are, to an acceptable degree, unrealistic, can have important functions.

Essay I discusses long-term goal setting. When there is a great temporal discrepancy between the point in time of setting and achieving a goal, many uncertainties have to be considered. The surrounding world and the agent’s abilities and values might change. This is an ontological uncertainty. We often form beliefs regarding how abilities and values might change, but this belief is always uncertain. This is an epistemological uncertainty. A form of goal called cautiously utopian goals is proposed, which incorporate such uncertainties, but enables goal setting with long time-frames.

Essay II discusses the issue of goals intended to reduce great risks. We cannot expect an agent to do something that lies beyond this agent’s abilities, as exemplified in the principle ‘ought implies can’. Adjusting goals to what we currently, with a high degree of certainty know could be done is difficult. If not including an estimation of how abilities can change, important performance-enhancing functions of goals might be lost. It is argued that very ambitious goals should be set. This is partly due to the great magnitude and likelihood of unwanted consequences and partly due to the difficulty of delineating what lies in agents’ capacity to manage complex risks.

Essay III discusses a decision-facilitating tool Sustainability Analysis to be used by Swedish municipal planners. One sub-part of the tool, Goal Conflict Analysis, can be used to identify how the consequences of a planned adaptation measure will affect other long-term municipal goals. Identified goal conflicts can then be used in order to determine whether the conflicts are acceptable, or whether a different adaptation measure should be worked out. The paper discusses a workshop in a Swedish municipality in which the tool has been tested.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2014. 49 p.
Series
Theses in philosophy from the Royal Institute of Technology, ISSN 1650-8831 ; 46
Keyword
goal setting, adaptation, sustainability, utopian goals, realistic goals
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-144917 (URN)978-91-7595-079-2 (ISBN)
Presentation
2014-05-15, 1515, Teknikringen 74D, KTH, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20140505

Available from: 2014-05-05 Created: 2014-05-05 Last updated: 2014-05-05Bibliographically approved
2. Cautiously utopian goals: Philosophical analyses of climate change objectives and sustainability targets
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Cautiously utopian goals: Philosophical analyses of climate change objectives and sustainability targets
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this thesis, the framework within which long-term goals are set and subsequently achieved or approached is analyzed. Sustainable development and climate change are areas in which goals have tobe set despite uncertainties. The analysis is divided into the normative motivations for setting such goals, what forms of goals could be set given the empirical and normative uncertainties, and how tomanage doubts regarding achievability or values after a goal has been set.

Paper I discusses a set of questions that moral theories intended to guide goal-setting should respond to. It is often claimed that existent normative theories provide only modest guidance regarding climate change, and consequently have to be revised or supplemented. Two such suggested revisions or supplements are analyzed in order to determine whether they provide such guidance.

Paper II applies the deep ecological framework to survey the extent to which it can be utilized to discuss issues concerning the management of climate change. It is suggested that the deep ecological framework can provide guidance by establishing a normative framework and an analysis of how the overarching values and principles can be specified to be relevant for actions.

Paper III is focused on normative political theory, and explicates the two dimensions of empirical and normative uncertainty. By applying recent discussions in normative political theory on ideal/non-ideal theory, political realism, and the relation between normative demands and empirical constraints,strategies for managing the proposed goals are suggested.

Paper IV suggests a form of goal that incorporates uncertainties. Cautious utopias allow greater uncertainty than realistic goals (goals that are known to be achievable or approachable, and desirable),but not to the same extent as utopian goals (goals wherein it is highly uncertain whether the goal can actually be achieved). Such goals have a performance-enhancing function. A definition and quality criteria for such goals are proposed.

Paper V considers whether a goal that is becoming all the more unlikely to be achievable should be reconsidered. The paper focuses on the two degrees Celsius target, and asks whether it could still be a sensible goal to aspire to. By applying the principle that ‘ought’ implies ‘can’, the role of such obligations is investigated.

Paper VI surveys how to treat circumstances in which an already set goal should be reconsidered and possibly revised, and what would evoke doubt in the belief upon which those goals have been set.Two situations are analyzed: (i) a problematic or surprising event occurs, upsetting confidence in one’s relevant beliefs, or (ii) respectable but dissenting views are voiced concerning one’s means and/or values. It is suggested that the validity of doubt has to be considered, in addition to the level in a goal-means hierarchy towards which doubt is raised.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2016. 41 p.
Series
Theses in philosophy from the Royal Institute of Technology, ISSN 1650-8831
Keyword
Sustainability; climate change; environmental philosophy; climate ethics; goals
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-176856 (URN)978-91-7595-744-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-01-07, F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, KTH, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20151204

Available from: 2015-12-04 Created: 2015-11-10 Last updated: 2016-04-20Bibliographically approved

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Publisher's full textScopushttp://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21550085.2015.1070487

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