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Life Within Energy Policy

Jacob Bethem


The “sacredness of life” is foundational to environmentalism, and “being alive” is the fundamental criterion for moral considerability. It is also recognized by some philosophers that well-being is often only assessing the individual in a vacuum, neglecting the moral component of impact to other lives (both human and nonhuman). In this way, the “value of life” bridges these related philosophies and provides theoretical support for decisions of social and environmental sustainability where lives are impacted, such as in the energy field. So, we ought to be explicit about those impacts if we are concerned about the morality of policies. Too often taken for granted, “life” is powerful – like no other term, it is immediately referring to two ends of a causal chain – our choices impact lives. To the extent that someone does not consent to a threat to being alive, we should do everything in our power to comply. With transparent, engaged, and inclusive discussions, informed by full life cycle analyses, we can not only protect fundamental rights of the least well-off but also can plan an energy transition that helps everyone to flourish. The case of the Navajo Generating Station illustrates impacts on real lives.


life; value; energy; transition; environmental ethics; sustainability; well-being; social sustainability; policy; Navajo

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/rela-2018-001-beth

Copyright (©) 2018 Jacob Bethem – Editorial format and Graphical layout: copyright (©) LED Edizioni Universitarie

Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (04/05/2012 n. 211)
Online ISSN 2280-9643 - Print ISSN 2283-3196

Executive Editor: Francesco Allegri
Associate Editor: Matteo Andreozzi 
Review Editors: Sofia Bonicalzi - Eleonora Adorni
Editorial Board:
Ralph R. Acampora - Carol J. Adams - Vilma Baricalla - Luisella Battaglia - Rod Bennison - Matthew R. Calarco - Piergiorgio Donatelli - William Grove-Fanning - Serenella Iovino - Luigi Lombardi Vallauri - Christoph Lumer - Joel MacClellan - Dario Martinelli - Roberto Marchesini - Alma Massaro - Serpil Oppermann - Simone Pollo - Paola Sobbrio - Kim Stallwood - Sabrina Tonutti - Jessica Ullrich - Federico Zuolo

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