While respect for nature pervades contemporary thought, issues of environmentalism and alternative energy largely lack a place in modern global conceptions of social justice. A theoretical or philosophical defense of these issues is therefore necessary to reinforce intuitions about nature, and ground them upon some substantive justification. One can find this justification in the Rawlsian theory of justice, which already informs many modern liberal notions. Rawlsian justice relies upon the Kantian notion that humans are autonomous beings— beings that are “ends” in themselves (that have inherent value). Rawls’ theory of justice attempts to respect each of these “ends.” However, traditional Rawlsian theory only considers persons today in its attempt to formulate social justice. By expanding the scope of what one considers to be an “end” to include both aspects of nature as well as persons in the future, one can transform the implications of Rawls’ theory. If these new “ends” are incorporated into the Rawlsian schema, they will gain all the argumentative potency of the influential theory. This expansion of Rawlsian justice will give much needed theoretical support to the issues of environmentalism and alternative energy, assimilating them into conceptions of international social justice.
"The Justice of Saving our World: Rawlsian Theory Applied to Environmentalism and Alternative Energy,"
Vol. 3, Article 1.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/globaltides/vol3/iss1/1