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Ecological Risks and Community Perceptions of Fairness and Justice: A Cross-Cultural Model

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Intergenerational justice is implicit in international commitments to sustainability. If ecological, economic, and social components of sustainability are to be achieved, there is a necessity for intergenerational justice considerations to be included in decision making. The present generation's risk judgments should include consideration of the possible outcomes for their children. But intergenerational issues cannot be considered in isolation from other current risk and fairness concerns. This article reports on a community-based integrative model that describes justice and other attitudes and motivations that determine community and individual proenvironmental behavior in two nations: Germany and Australia. This model can account for a considerable amount of the variance in political compliance as well as various proenvironmental behaviors. Group or individual self-interests have nearly no effects on global protective behavior. It is shown that universal as well as contextual principles, including distributive (within or between generations), procedural, and interactive justice, play a crucial role in fairness judgments. Other principles are also taken into account, such as efficiency, environmental rights, and rights to economic welfare. The results are discussed in relation to the importance of complex community fairness judgments in predicting and evaluating acceptance of political decisions, and for promoting proenvironmental behavior.

Keywords: Ecological risks; community; equity; fairness judgments; justice

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: 1: CSIRO, Australian Research Centre for Water in Society, Wembley, WA Australia., 2: University of Trier, Germany.

Publication date: 2000-12-01

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