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ABSTRACT. As long as the economy is not embedded in a superordinate societal framework the problem of sustainable development cannot be solved within the logic of the market system. The establishment of such a framework is an epochal cultural and political task. The well-known definition of sustainable development by the Brundtland Commission fails to make this clear since it neglects the importance of interpersonal obligations (rights and duties). But from an ethical perspective, interpersonal obligations are essential. The discourse on sustainability is dominated by the technocratic illusion that more “eco-efficiency” of our economic means is enough and that the purposes of our economic activities need not be put into question. Contrary to this illusion, it is argued here that we need to develop a socio-ecological understanding of the problem and to recognize that “sustainable development” after all is just another term for establishing social, international and intergenerational fairness and justice. After raising the awareness for this understanding in the first section, the second section of this paper presents a problem-solving approach that includes four elementary steps of rethinking and establishing socio-ecological policies by means of limiting the inherent necessities of market competition. (pp. 99–112)

JEL: A11, L17, Q01

STEVE STEIN
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University of Miami

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