Ethical perspectives

Justice is an essential dimension of sustainable development. First, justice concerns equitable distribution between rich and poor countries and individuals. Second, it concerns fair management of nature and the environment. Third, justice is a question of responsibility to future generations. These three dimensions of justice pervade many issues, and the four key areas must therefore take care of ethical perspectives.


Ethical research issues across the main research topics

  • Ethical responsibilities with respect to intergenerational justice and future generations.

  • Ethical issues connected to sustainability issues in diverge contexts, notably poor and affluent contexts.

  • Discourses of sustainability (e.g. promethean and survivalist views) and competing norms for valuing nature and natural resources.

  • Tragedy of the commons.

In addition:

  • Goals and institutional framework, hereunder ethically binding strategies for overcoming motivational and institutional obstacles to sustainable development.

  • Sustainable urban development, hereunder how to manage sustainable governance, e.g. ethical responsibilities connected with development of urban structures in rich and poor countries.

  • Biodiversity and ecosystem services, hereunder discourses of competing norms for valuing nature and natural resources.

  • Competing views of calculation of values of sources of nutrition applies here and how different prioritizations influence biodiversity and ecosystems.

  • Environmental and sustainability analyses, hereunder communication between expertise and the lay public in understanding how the sustainability analysis applies and competing views of calculation of values.


Ongoing projects

Rights to a Green Future

EU - ESF project 2011–2015.
This project consists of a large researcher network from all over Europe. Professor May Thorseth is the coordinator of one of the four work groups which explores the psychological and institutional obstacles to sustainable policies.

Applied Ethics. Technology and Governance of Health and Natural Resources

ISP-FIDE, NFR, 2012–2015.
Project manager: Professor May Thorseth.
One of the central issues in this project relates to the management of natural resources, including questions about how natural resources create institutions and political systems. Allen Alvarez is coordinating the project and Siri Granum Carson is also central to this activity.

Dialogues on Aquaculture

This is an NTNU-based interdisciplinary project with participants from the two strategic focus areas of Globalization and Marine and Maritime Technology. The project is led by Professor Jennifer Bailey, Department of Sociology and Political Science and Professor May Torseth, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies and Program for Applied Ethics.

Frogs, fuel, finance or food? Cultures, values, ethics, arguments and justifications in the management of agricultural land

NFR-SAMKUL 2013–2016.

A project led by the Center for Rural Research. The overall objective of this project is to explore how culture, values and ethics have affected the arguments and justifications for decisions that relate to the management of agricultural land in the past as well as now and in the future. Professor May Thorseth is leading Work Package 4: Ethical assessments in the management of agricultural land.