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Need, Entitlement and Desert: A Distributive Justice Framework for Consumption Degrowth

Cle-Anne Gabriel, Carol Bond

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Post-growth societies seek socio-ecological transformations towards a just and sustainable redistribution and reduced consumption of natural capital. There is no one universally just and ecologically sustainable way of fulfilling these redistribution and consumption objectives; it depends on the criteria used and their underlying ethical teleology. We suggest three distribution criteria, borrowed from the foundations of the Environmental Justice (EJ) movement: need, entitlement and desert. By juxtaposing and problematising the needs, entitlements and deserts of nature and society, these criteria comprise an ethical framework for consumption Degrowth praxis in communities. We present arguments for how each distribution criterion fulfils the aims articulated in the Degrowth corpus. Based on these arguments, we propose seven justice-based community action principles for redistribution under Degrowth. In our discussion of these derived principles, we demonstrate that, like EJ, Degrowth seeks consequential as well as deontological justice, underscoring their deep complementarity. Therefore, our Need-Entitlement-Desert framework may serve as a useful guiding frame to include ethical distribution considerations in societies' pursuit of post-growth futures.

Ecological Economics, vol. 156, February 2019, pp. 327-336

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