Environmental Justice and the Economy
A Christian Theologian’s View
Keywords:environmental harms, economic market practices, Rawls, justice, global economy, cardinal virtues
This article presents the case for a Christian understanding of justice as one that is inclusive of environmental issues. I concentrate, in particular, on economic market practices that serve to exacerbate environmental harms. Justice has commonly been considered in the first place as a value principle that is more often than not confined to the human community. I argue in the second place for the relevance of a Christian understanding of the virtues, incorporating the classic tradition of justice understood as a virtue alongside prudence and temperance. The first, principled approach, opens up the possibility of a critical discussion of Rawls’ theory of justice in relation to the concerns of environmental justice movements and the need for further broadening out into ecological justice. The second, virtue approach, opens up the need to take into account Christian concern for the poor and mediating economic strategies that demonstrate how the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice and temperance can, together, be expressed in practical terms prior to more radical and more idealistic revisions in the global economy.
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