Wicked Sustainability

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GRØN DYST 2012 Technical University of Denmark

Wicked Sustainability
Paper
Author:Henrik Boensvang (Department of Philosophy, MEF, University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
Date: 2012-06-22     Track: Main     Session: 1

ABSTRACT Technology systems are not just increasingly important physical and structural elements of an increasingly humanized earth characterized by complex human systems. Because technologies are connected to the economic, social, and cultural systems, they enable, and in turn are enabled by, just adds extraordinary levels of complexity. So to turn this complex world into a sustainable world would it be sufficient to make even more devices although green? I would say: It’s necessary but far from adequate or sufficient. We need to redefine the contested concept: "Sustainability" Since philosophers are especially good at providing conceptual clarification, they are an especially good group of people to turn to for enhanced understanding of wicked problems, especially ones like sustainability that are, at bottom, rooted in normative disputes. My contribution to ‘Grøn Dyst’ is driven by my wonderings regarding the seemingly easy solutions we present to the problems, which follow, from our increasingly more complex way of living in the world. As I noted above the global policymaking fails to address the fact that; the coupled global systems of atmosphere, ocean, biology, economy and equity are being addressed by constructs such as "carbon footprints". This, I would say, is adequate demonstration of failure to understand and respond ethically to adaptive complex systems - especially ones of which humans are an integral part. My project is an attempt to analyze and give a redefined understanding version of ethics. In this matter ethics is to be understood as the tool we use to decide what to do - to do the right, valid and sound thing. Establishing process is just as important in many ways as explicitly ethical framings at a particular point in time. In the Danish language we use the same word for “soundness” of a logical sequent as we do when discussing sustainability. It has long been a problem in ethics that technological advances render previous ethics outdated. Nonetheless people think that we have an ethics which is working and which our law systems are based upon. This is obviously not a true assumption.