Box 71, Item 3: Draft of Some ethical aspects of energy options


Box 71, Item 3: Draft of Some ethical aspects of energy options


Typescript of draft, one page corrected with whiteout, undated. Paper published, Routley R and Routley V (1979) 'Some ethical aspects of energy options' in Diesendorf M, Bartell R, Casey C, Day A, Day LH, Gifford RM and Saddler H (eds), Energy and people: social implications of different energy futures, Society for Social Responsibility in Science A.C.T.


Unnumbered paper from collection, item number assigned by library staff.


The University of Queensland's Richard Sylvan Papers UQFL291, Box 71, Item 3


This item was identified for digitisation at the request of The University of Queensland's 2020 Fryer Library Fellow, Dr. N.A.J. Taylor.


For all enquiries about this work, please contact the Fryer Library, The University of Queensland Library.


[16] leaves. 14.29 MB.




R. and V. Routley
Plumwood Mountain
Box 37 Braidwood, NSW. 2622.

Major ethical issues intrude conspicuously into the question
For example, the Kantian question:

of energy choice.

what ought

we to do (or try to do) in the awkward circumstances that will shortly
face us on the energy-front?

And Aristotle’s question:

What is a

a question transposed these days into questions as

good life like?

to quality of life and the extent to which quality genuinely depends

on quantity of energy (Aristotle thought, by the way, that a good
life required only a modicum of material goods.)

questions such as:

And traditional

What are we morally entitled to do to others,

and with respect to nature?

a question extended to include future

others and now asked seriously as regards wild nature.
modern questions such as:

And more

which sorts of consumer demand —

especially of energy-intensive goods - should be met?
It is evident enough then, without going into details , that

ethical questions have an important bearing on main issues on
energy choice and that a pure social engineering

approach to

the problem is bound to write in much that calls for examination

or rejection.

But it is often supposed - mistakenly - that the

ethical issues are adequately taken care of in the structures we
already have, e.g. through internal political and legal structures

and by international legal arrangements.
Suppose, it is said, the question of replacement of burners in

a Japanese electricity station arises, and the Japanese decide to
replace the burners by nuclear ones.

routine political way.
wider morality?

for the Japanese.

The matter is approved in a

Who are we to say that the matter is one of

It is a matter of internal pclitical arrangements
Suppose, to begin to see that this is not so,

that a nation decides to install(or replace in the course of modern­


isation) the burners in a concentration camp, and that the matter
is approved in a routine political fashion and meets all internal

legal requirements.

We are almost all going to say that the matter

is one of wider morality.

And so also is taking choices on the life,

health and well being of future people in a nuclear adventure.


generally, pollution, and especially non-local types of pollution

such as nuclear pollution, raises ethical issues which transcend
conventional national and political boundaries.

For the effects of

pollution are often not locally contained, polluted air or water may

move far afield to affect even features of the world, such as climate
and ocean levels.
The idea that the ethics of such matters is satisfactorily

regulated by international legal arrangements - agreements, pacts,

contracts and the like or international regulatory agencies (where
they operate) - is likewise unsound.

For the arrangements commonly

bear little relation to what is considered right or just:


may have been arrived at by expediency or, at best, through moral

compromise, and they may reflect immediate self-interest rather
than morality.

Just as legal principles are in general neither

necessary nor sufficient as moral principles, so international
legal arrangements are no substitute for morality, and usually do
not even offer, a poor reflection of ethical arrangements.

More difficult to dispose of, and more insidious, are
engineering approaches to morality built into models of an economic

cast, e.g. benefit-cost balance sheets, risk assessment models, etc.

It is a commonplace nowadays that there is no method of pro­

viding for future energy needs which will not involve substantial

costs to someone, and that these costs must just be accepted as
part of the price we pay for our advanced technological society and
our high living standard.

"If you want the benefits you must be

prepared to pay the costs" is part of the new conventional wisdom


on energy.

The model is that of a simple economic transaction, for

example someone going into a shop and buying paper towels — she

wants the paper so she must be prepared to pay over the money
representing the equivalent of the cost of the paper in unpleasant
labour, forest destruction, etc.

But here, on energy, as in so many other places, the conventional
wisdom is not to be trusted.

For the transaction model suggests

that the costs and benefits are evenly distributed, that those who
benefit pay the costs and vice versa.
is very often

But with energy options this

not so, and in fact this is one of the more important

ways in which the ethical aspects of the energy issue arise.


conventional transaction model is an attempt to gloss over crucial

ethical aspects of the problem.

Again, the energy issue raises

questions about the goals (ends) and values of society, and is not

just a disagreement about the best means of achieving unquestioned

or accepted goals, and it has an important bearing too on the
distribution of power both economic and political between various

Thus are involved then crucial political as well as ethical

aspects, and these too the simple transaction model attempts to sweep

under the carpet.

The simple transaction model, despite its appeal

to the technological mind, and to those who are anxious to maintain
the myth of the political and value freedomness of science and
technology, is quite inadequate, for it does not reflect significant

distributional features of the energy problem.

It is in fact an

attempt to ignore, deny or gloss over the crucial political and

ethical aspects of the energy issue, and to avoid facing the social

and ethical choices involved.
A more sophisticated relative of the transaction model is
now called risk assessment, which purports to provide a comparison

between the relative risks attached to different energy options which
settles their ethical status.

The following lines of argument are


encountered in risk assessment as applied to energy options:

if option a imposes costs on fewer people than option b

then option a is preferable to option b;

option a involves a total net cost in terms of cost to

people (e.g. deaths, injuries, etc.) which is less than of option b,
which is already accepted; therefore option a is acceptable.

For example, the number likely to be killed by nuclear power stations
is less than the likely number killed by cigarette smoking, which is


So nuclear power stations are acceptable.

A little

reflection reveals that this sort of risk assessment argument involves

the same kind of fallacy as the transaction model.

It is far too

simple-minded, and it ignores distributional and other relevant

aspects of the context.

In order to obtain an ethical assessment

we should need a much fuller picture and we should need to know at
least these things:-

do the costs and benefits go to the same parties;

and is the person who undertakes the risks also the person who

receives the benefits or primarily, as in driving or cigarette smoking,

or are costs imposed on other parties who do not benefit?

It is

only if the parties are the same in the case of the options compared,

and there are no such distributional problems, that a comparison on
such a basis would be valid.4

This is rarely the case, and it is

not so in the case of risk assessments of energy options.


does the person incur the risk as a result of an activity which he

knowingly undertakes in a situation where he has a reasonable choice,
knowing it entails the risk, etc., and is the level of risk in

proportion to the level of the relevant activity, e.g. as in smoking?
Thirdly, for what reason is the risk imposed:

or a relatively trivial reason?

is it for a serious

A risk that is ethically acceptable

for a serious reason may not be ethically acceptably for a trivial

Both the arguments (i) and (ii) are often

trying to justify nuclear power.

employed in

The second argument (ii) involves

the fallacies of the first (i) and an additional set, namely that
of forgetting that the health risks in the nuclear sense are

cumulative, and in the eyes of many people already high if not too

Despite a certain superficial plausibility, so-called risk

assessment as a method of comparing the ethical status of energy
options is little more than a bundle of fallacies deceptively

packaged in pseudo-scientific wrappings.

It purports to give a

simple apparently precise and scientific method of evaluating the

ethical status of energy options, but in fact it depends on a number

of hidden assumptions about which factors are relevant and which can
be ignored in an ethical assessment, which when brought out for
examination can be seen to be guite unacceptable.

§2. The maxim "If you want the benefits you have to accept the

costs" is one thing and the maxim "If I want the benefits then you

have to accept the costs (or some of them at least)" is another
and very different thing.

It is a widely accepted moral principle

that one is not, in general, entitled to simply transfer costs of a

significant kind arising from an activity which benefits oneself
onto other parties who are not involved in the activity and are not


This transfer principle

is especially clear in

cases where the significant costs include an effect on life or

health or a risk thereof, and where the benefit to the benefitting
party is of a noncrucial or dispensible nature.

(Thus one is not

usually entitled to harm, or risk harming, another in the process of
benefitting oneself.)

Suppose, for example, we consider a village

which produces, as a result of the industrial process by which it

lives, a noxious waste material which is expensive and difficult
to dispose/ye^t creates a risk to life and health if undisposed of.

Instead of giving up their industrial process and turning to some

other way of making a living such as farming the surrounding


countryside, they persist with this way of life but ship their
problem on a one-way delivery service to the next village.


inhabitants of this village are then forced to face the problem

either of undertaking the expensive and difficult disposal process
or of sustaining risks to their own lives and health.

Most of us

would see this kind of transfer of costs as morally unacceptable.

From this arises a necessary condition for energy options:

that to be morally acceptable they should not involve the transfer
of significant costs or risks of harm onto parties who are not

involved, do not use the energy source or do not benefit corres­
pondingly from its use.

Included in the scope of this condition

are future people, i.e. not merely people living at the present time
but also future generations (those of the next villages).

distribution of costs and damage in such a fashion, i.e. onto non­
beneficiaries is a characteristic of certain widespread and serious

forms of pollution, and is one of its most objectionable morel
It is a corollary of the condition that we should not hand the
world on to our successors in substantially worse shape than we

received it - the transmission principle.

For if we did then that

would be a significant transfer of costs.

(The corollary can be

independently argued for on the basis of certain ethical theories,

in particular contract theories such as Rawls’.)

Some philosophers8 have attempted to undercut the trans­
mission principle, arguing that we are not morally obligated to

make sacrifices for the future.

Making sacrifices is however signifi­

cantly different from refraining from passing on costs, and it is

the latter which is mainly at issue.

We might be making sacrifices,

for example, if we made ourselves worse off than future people might

be normally expected to be in order that they might be better off

than us.

We are passing on our costs when we make them worse off

than they would normally be because of some activity which benefits

We may not be morally obliged to make sacrifices for future

people, but we do have a moral obligation not to pass on our costs,
and our obligations in this respect do not just apply to the next

generation, but to any set of people who could be affected.
In terms of the necessary condition we can undertake some

limited comparison of energy options from an ethical standpoint.
It is very doubtful that the main options that are being seriously

considered meet this condition for moral acceptibility ;

in particular

it is extremely doubtful that nuclear energy options do so.


energy appears to represent a classic case of passing on costs and
risks to nonbeneficiaries, especially future people, because of the

way in which nuclear waste created now produces risks and problems
for future people.

Unless a rigorously safe method of storage is

employed, as many as 40,000

generations of people have to face costs

in the shape of risks to health and life arising from the energy
consumption of at most perhaps 10 generations.
even worse when

The situation is

one reflects on the fact that many of the purposes

for which this energy will be required are of a dispensible and

unnecessary (and even undesirable) nature, and energy use of an
extravagant and needless kind would undoubtedly be involved in order
for the big increases in per capita energy consumption which justify
much of the nuclear expansion program in the industrialised world

to be reached.

Not only would costs be passed on to people in the

distant future to whom no benefits seem to accrue but his is done
for reasons that cannot be seen as pressing or needful.
The waste

disposal aspect of nuclear power production is not the only way in

which the nuclear option may pass on problems and costs to nonbene­

unless an unrealistic perfection in the handling, mining,

transport and processing and reprocessing of nuclear fuels and waste

is assumed, various forms of widespread radioactive pollution could
occur which would affect not only those who use and benefit from

the energy source but also very many who do not, especially m the
third world.10

We have heard a good deal recently from some local quarters
(the PR machinery of the Australian National University) about how
the nuclear waste disposal problem has been solved, and the objections

on the grounds of waste disposal eleminated.

Of course a number

of similar claims have been made in the past, and there never
was a problem according to hard-line nuclear advocates of nuclear


There are good reasons for treating these claims with some

scepticism, and not merely because of disagreement among the parties,

but because what we have in effect with the final "solution


yet another proposal for a possible method of treating waste with

significant gaps in the arguments, a considerable lack of experimental
and practical support, and so on.11

We must be satisfied beyond

reasonable doubt that there is a completely safe procedure
before claims can be responsibily made that a problem of such

seriousness has been technically solved.

It is irresponsible,

especially on the part of university authorities, to give the
impression that such a problem is solved or eliminated when so much

remains to be done and when reasonable doubts may still be raised

as they may in this case.

An even more important reason why the

claims that the problem has been eliminated have to be rejected is
that even if a method of disposal can be experimentally (or even

commercially) demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt to be completely
safe, it is not the technical possibility of safe disposal that is
important from an ethical standpoint but the actual practical
likelihood of such a method being used.

Firstly, it is worth

bearing in mind that the new miracle method was immediately

rejected by some of the pronuclear establishment as both expensive

(despite optimistic cost estimates) and unnecessary, which does
not give a very hopeful prognosis for its use.

There are moreover

reasons for thinking that governments may not want or favour
permanent irretrievable disposal methods.

They may want to keep

open their options for employing waste either for military purposes

or for use in breeder reactors or elsewhere.

There is in fact

little reason to believe that nuclear pollution will be treated

in a different fashion from other forms of pollution, where the mere
fact that there are satisfactory methods of control is by no means

sufficient to guarantee their effective employment, especially if

they are expensive.

It would be methodologically unsound to ignore

these risk elements arising from social and political factors and

to regard the problem as a purely technological one which can be
classed as eliminated the moment someone puts forward a promising

looking technical proposal.

The practical likelihood, even with a

disposal method proven safe beyond reasonable doubt, remains - that

nuclear power will impose costs on future people who do not benefit,
that future people will either be forced to go to great expense and

trouble to dispose safely of the nuclear wastes generated by our
consumption, or that they will have to pay the price in their own
lives and health for inadequate disposal or storage of the wastes

generated by us.

For these reasons, we belive that the nuclear

energy option remains morally unacceptable!

and unacceptable not

merely from a particular ethical standpoint, but in terms of common
ground from a range of ethical positions.

One cannot pretend that the future energy option that is

frequently contrasted with nuclear, namely coal, is particularly
attractive - because of the likelihood of really serious (air)

pollution and associated phenomena such as acid rain and atmosphere
heating not to mention the despoliation caused by extensive strip

mining all of which will result from its use in meeting very high
Such an option would also fail,

projected consumption figures.

it seems, to meet the necessary condition, because it would impose
widespread costs on nonbeneficiaries for some concentrated benefits

to some profit takers and to some users who do not pay the full costs

x. 13
of production and replacement.

These are the conventional options and a third is often added

which emphasizes soft or benign technologies, such as those of
solar energy.

The fundamental choice, such options tend to neglect,

is not technological but social, and involves both the restructuring
of production away from energy intensive uses:

at a more basic level

there is a choice between consumeristic and nonconsumeristic futures.
These more fundamental choices between social alternatives, con­
ventional technologically-oriented discussion tends to obscure.


is not just a matter of deciding in which way to meet unexamined goals
but also a matter of examining the goals.

That is, we are not just

faced with the question of comparing different technologies or

substitute ways of meeting some fixed or given demand or level of
consumption, and of trying to see whether we can meet this with
soft rather than hard technologies;

we are also faced, and primarily,

with the matter of examing those alleged needs and the cost of

society that creates them.

It is not just a question of devising

less damaging ways to meet these alleged needs conceived of us

inevitable and unchangeable.

(Hence there are solar ways of

producing unnecessary trivia no one really wants, as opposed to

nuclear ways).

Of course one does not want to deny that these

softer options are superior to the clearly ethically unacceptable
features of the others.

But it is doubtful that any technology however benign in

principle will be likely to leave a tolerable world for future
people if it is expected to meet limitless and uncontrolled energy

consumption and demands.

Even the more benign technologies such

as solar technology could be used in a way which creates costs for

future people and are likely to result in a deteriorated world
being handed on to them.

Consider, for example, the effect on the

world's forests, which are commonly counted as a solar resource, of
use for production of methonal or of electricity by woodchipping,

as already planned by forest authorities in California and contem­
plated by many other energy organisations.

Few would object to the

use of genuine waste material for energy production, but the un­

restricted exploitation of forests - whether it goes under the name

of "solar energy" or not - to meet ever increasing energy demands
could well be the last nail in the coffin of the world's already
hard pressed natural forests.

The effects of such additional demands on the maintenance of the
forests are often discounted, even by soft technologicalists, by

the simple expedient of waving around the label 'renewable resource'.

Most forests are in principle renewable, it is a true, given a
certain (low) rate and kind of exploitation, but in fact there are
now very few forestry operations anywhere in the world where the
forests are treated as completely renewable in the sense of the

renewal of all their many regions too the rate of

exploitation which would enable renewal has already been exceeded,
so that a total decline is widely thought to be immanent if not

already well advanced.

It certainly has begun in some regions,

and for some forest types (such as rainforest types) which are being

lost for the future.

The addition of a major further demand source

that for energy— and especially one which shows every sign of being

not readily limitable,

on top of the present sources is one which


anyone with a realistic appreciation of the conduct of forestry

operations, who is also concerned with longterm conservation of
the forests and remaining natural communities, must regard with


The result of massive deforestation for energy purposes,

resembling the deforestation of England at the beginning of the

Industrial Revolution, again for energy purposes, could be extensive
and devastating erosion in steeper lands and tropical areas,

desertification in more arid regions, possible climatic change, and
massive impoverishment of natural ecosystems.

Some of us do not

want to pass on - we are not entitled to pass on - a deforested world
to the future, any more than we want to pass on one poisoned by

nuclear products or polluted by coal products.

In short, a mere

switch to a more benign technology - important though this is - with­

out any more basic structural and social change is not enough.
The deeper social options involve challenging and trying to
change a social structure which promotes consumerism and an economic
structure which encourages the use of highly energy-intensive modes

of production.

This means, for instance, trying to change a social

structure in which those who are lucky enough to make it into the

work force are cogs in a production machine over which they have

very little real control and in which most people do unpleasant or
boring work from which they derive very little real satisfaction in

order to obtain the reward of consumer goods and services.

A society

in which social rewards are obtained primarily from products rather
than processes, from consumption, rather than from satisfaction in work

and in social relations and other activities, is bound to be one which
generates a vast amount of unnecessary consumption.

(A production

system that produces goods not to meet genuine needs but for created
and non-genuine needs is virtually bound to overproduce.)


frequently becomes a substitute for satisfaction in other areas.


§4. Conclusions.

The social change option is a hard option, but

it seems the only way to avoid passing on serious costs to the

future - and there are other sorts of reasons than such ethical
ones for taking it.15

The ethical conditions thus lead

us into

political issues, but this is not very surprising, as there is no

sharp division between the areas (and political theories always
presuppose an ethics).

This kind of social change option tends

to be obscured in most discussions of energy options and how to
meet our energy needs, in part because it questions underlying

values of current social arrangements.

The conventional discussion

proceeds by taking alleged demand (often restated as wants or needs)

as unchallengeable,16 and the issue to be one of which technology
can be most profitably employed to meet them.

This effectively

presents a false choice, and is the result of taking needs and demand
as lacking a social context so that the social structure which

produces the needs is similarly taken as unchallengable and unchange­


The social changes that the option requires will be strongly

resisted because they mean changes in current social organisation
and power structure, and to the extent that the option represents
some kind of threat to parts of present political and economic
arrangements it is not surprising that official energy option

discussion proceeds by misrepresenting and often obscuring it.



A more detailed case would look at what is involved in
decision methods for choosing between options on energy
and would show that general decision modellings, e.g.
optimisation modellings for best choice, necessarily involve
evaluative factors, some of them of a>n ethical kind.
The ethical components are particularly conspicuous in
elementary decision theory where the assessment of each
outcome is obtained by multiplying the probability of
the outcome by its desirability, the desirability being
an overtly evaluative question often involving ethical
Any idea that decision theory is somehow a
value-free way of reaching decisions is thoroughly wrong.
The pure theory may be a logico—mathematical one, but its
significant applications are not.


The pernicious underlying assumption - that major ethical issues
are not really a matter of individual concern and can, and
perhaps should, be left to elected government_or appointed
bureaucrats - can be despatched in a rather similar way.


Even then relevant environmental factors may have been


There are variations on (i) and (ii) which multiply costs
In this way risks,
against numbers such as probabilities.
construed as probable costs, can be taken into account in
the assessment. (Alternatively, risks may be assessed through
such familiar methods as insurance).
A principle varying (ii), and formulated as follows:
(ii') a is ethically acceptable if (for some b) a includes
no more risks than b and b is socially accepted,
was the basic ethical principle in terms of which the Cluff
Lake Board of Inquiry recently decided that nuclear power
development in Saskatchewan
is ethically acceptable:
see Cluff Lake Board of Inquiry Final Report, Department of
Environment, Government of Saskatchewan,
1978, p.305 and
In this report, a is nuclear power and b is either
activities clearly accepted by society as alternative power
sources. In other applications b has been taken as cigarette
smoking, motoring, mining and even the Vietnam war(’)
The points made in the text do not exhaust the objections to
principles (i)-(ii’). The principles are certainly ethically
substantive, since an ethical consequence cannot be deduced.from
nonethical premisses, but they have an inadmissible conventional
character. For look at the origin of b: b may be socially
accepted though it is no longer socially acceptable, or though
its social acceptibility is no longer so clearcut and it would
not have been socially accepted if as much as known.had
been known when it was introduced. What is required in (ii’),
for instance, for the argument to begin to look convincing is
then 'ethically acceptable1 rather than ’socially accepted'.
But even with the amendments the principles are invalid, for the
reasons given in the text.
It is not disconcerting that these arguments do not work.
would be sad to see yet another area lost to the experts/ namely
ethics to actuaries.



A main part of the trouble with the models is that they are
narrowly utilitarian, and like utilitarianism they neglect
distributional features, involve naturalistic fallacies, etc.
Really they try to treat as an unconstrained optimisation what
is a deontically constrained optimisation: see R. and V. Routley
'An expensive repair kit for utilitariansim'.


Apparent exceptions to the principle such as taxation (and
redistribution of income generally) vanish when wealth is
construed (as it has to be if taxation is to be properly
justified) as at least partly a social asset unfairly monopo­
lised by a minority of the population.
Examples such as that of motoring dangerously do not constitute
counterexamples to the principle;
for one is not morally entitled
to so motor.


As we have argued in detail in R. and V. Routley 'Nuclear energy
and obligations to the future \ Inquiry 21 (1978), pp. 133-179 .


For example, Passmore in Man's Responsibility for Nature,
Duckworth, London, 1974, chapter 4.


A further problem of a less obvious kind is also created for
future people; the postponement of the switch away from energyintensive economies, which nuclear power is designed to effect,
creates a situation of increasing and critical dependence upon
energy-intensive uses at a time when there is eve.ry prospect that
they cannot be sustained for more than a short time.
the growth of energy-intensive societies and lifestyles is encouraged
and fostered.
The switch is accordingly made far more difficult
than it is at present, and thus we may well be placing future
people in very difficult positions, with a real energy crisis.
Continuance on a high energy path in the present circumstances
seems then to violate the commonly recognised principle that we
have an obligation to hand on to the next generation a society
that is not conspicuously worse than that which we received.


A few nuclear plant accidents, for example, would significantly
increase background levels of radiation, so that millions of
people who are not involved might have to carry risks or costs
because of the energy consumption of a few wealthy nations or
wealthy elites. The increased risk of nuclear war is another
way in which global risks are imposed because of the determination
of industrial nations to maintain and increase lavish energy
consumption levels.


For an excellent discussion of the limitations of the proposed
disposal method see B. Martin, 'Radioactive waste disposal:
is Synroc the solution?'


For the reason that the consequences of failure are so serious:
see R. and V. Routley, op. cit. footnote 1.


Certainly practical transitional programs may involve temporary
and limited use of unacceptable long term commodities such as
coal, but in presenting such practical details one should not
lose sight of the more basic social and structural changes, and
the problem is really one of making those.
Similarly practical transitional strategies should make use of
such measures as environmental (or replacement) pricing of energy,
i.e. so that the price of some energy unit includes the full cost


footnote 13 continued.
of replacing it by an equivalent unit taking account
of environmental cost of production. Other (sometimes
strategies towards more satisfactory alter­
natives should also, of course, be adopted, in particular
the removal of institutional barriers to energy conser­
vation and alternative technology (e.g. local government
regulations blocking these), and the removal of state
assistance to fuel and power industries.

Symptomatic of the fact that is it not treated as renewable
is that forest economics do not generally allow for full
renewability - if they did the losses and deficits on
forestry operations would be much more striking than they
already are often enough.
It is doubtful, furthermore, that energy cropping of
forests can be a fully renewable operation if net energy.
production is to be worthwhile; see, e.g. the argument m
L.R.B. Mann ’Some difficulties with energy farming for
portable fuels', and add in the costs of ecosystem maintenance.


Certainly it is the only sort of option open to one who takes
a deeper ecological perspective.


Thus it is argued by representatives of such industries as
transportation and petroleum, as for example by McGrowth of
the XS Consumption Co., that people want deep freezers, air
conditioners, power boats,- It would be authoritarian to stop them
satisfying these wants. The argument conveniently ignores
the social framework in which such needs and wants arise or
are produced. To point to the determination of many such
wants at the framework level is not hower to accept a Marxist
approach according to which they are entirely determined at
the framework level (e.g. by industrial organisation) an .
there is no such thing as individual choice or determination
at all. It is to see the social framework as a major factor
in determining certain kinds of choices such as those for
travel and infrastructure and to see apparently individual
choices made in such matters as being channelled.and directed
by a social framework determined largely in the interests o
private profit and advantage. See R.,and V. Routlev,
'Towards a social theory for ecotopia'.



Richard Sylvan and Val Plumwood, “Box 71, Item 3: Draft of Some ethical aspects of energy options,” Antipodean Antinuclearism, accessed December 10, 2023,

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