Special Issue on Philosophical Contributions to Degrowth

2024-06-25

Confirmed Contributors:

  • Ingrid Robeyns (Utrecht University)
  • Julie Rose (Darmouth College)
  • Darrel Moellendorf (Goethe University Frankfurt)
  • Michiru Nagatsu (University of Helsinki)
  • Steven Vanderheiden (University of Colorado)

Description:

The ecological and climate crisis has spurred much interest in formerly marginal ideas of idea of post-growth or degrowth among academics, politicians, activists, and the wider public. Such ideas are still controversial but rapidly increasing in popularity: books on degrowth have become international bestsellers, in a recent global survey[1] 73% climate policy researchers are reported to be sceptical towards the possibility or desirability of ‘green growth’, and the 2023 “Beyond Growth Conference”, saw Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, address thousands of participants. It seems that debates around degrowth are likely to be central in the coming years. However, academic philosophers working on similar areas have, so far, kept fairly quiet[2].

This is somewhat surprising, not only because of the popularity or importance of debates around green growth and degrowth, but also because many of the themes that degrowth scholars touch on have a long pedigree at the intersection of philosophy and economics: from limits to economic growth and the (un)desirability thereof, criticisms and alternatives to GDP and similar resource-based measurements, critique of consumerist forms of economic development, the role of ecological constraints, the just redistribution of resources, and so forth.

To see how philosophers of economics, political philosophers, historians of economic thought and others might contribute to green-growth and degrowth debates – either as proponents, detractors, or simply to clear up conceptual issues - the Erasmus Journal of Philosophy and Economics calls for contributions for a special issue. The scope is fairly wide and below you can find a non-exhaustive list of possible topics or questions:

Philosophy of economics/science:

  • Perspectives on the ‘decoupling debate’ – the question of whether current economic growth can be decoupled from forms of ecological harms and how such conclusions can be reached from available evidence.
  • Critical investigation into the conceptual nature of implicit and explicit assumptions that underlie economic growth in economic models, integrated assessment models (IAMs), Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs), or other interdisciplinary modelling. These might include strong/weak sustainability, rate of (sustainable) technological development, satiation of consumer demand and more.

Ethics/Political philosophy:

  • Questions related to the inherent value, or disvalue of economic growth and material advancement, or the value of economic growth, leisure, or consumption in political philosophy.
  • Conceptions of freedom, (value-)pluralism, liberalism, limitarianism or deliberative democracy, relevant to a degrowth society; contributions of various schools of thought in political philosophy and distributive justice to (de-)growth debates.
  • (Non-)Satiation of desires and consumption (e.g., the role of exogenous preference formation, adaptation, or deliberation on (consumer) preferences); (non-)satiation in political philosophy or social choice theory

History of economic thought:

  • Limits to growth, and growth-critical thinkers and their critics in the history of economic thought. This can encompass anything from classical economists (Malthus, Mill, etc.) to the 1970s growth debates and the work of e.g. Georgescu-Roegen and Daly that shed light modern debates on (de-)growth.
  • Historical questions relating to economic growth as a goal and/or measure or of economic and social development.

Practicalities:

The Erasmus Journal of Philosophy and Economics publishes research at the intersection of philosophy and economics, including HET. Empirical or purely economic research falls outside of the scope of the journal. Please get in contact with us if you are unsure whether your contribution is suitable for the journal.

Deadline: Text should be submitted by 29th of August 2025. The special issue will be published in Winter 2025. Please let the editors know if you are planning on submitting. This helps us have a smoother planning for the peer-review process. Get in contact with editors@ejpe.org, or frey@esphil.eur.nl.

Length: Texts should be between 4000-8000 words. We are happy to consider publishing shorter pieces (2000-4000) as critical comments. Submissions go through a standard double-blind peer-review process. Please submit in our standard submission system, where you can also find guidelines for authors.

Diamond Open Access: The EJPE proudly is a diamond open access journal. We charge no fees for authors and all of our texts are freely available.

In case of any questions get in contact at editors@ejpe.org, or Gideon Frey at frey@esphil.eur.nl

 

[1] King, L. C., Savin, I., & Drews, S. (2023). Shades of green growth scepticism among climate policy researchers. Nature Sustainability, 6(11), 1316-1320.

[2]For some recent examples in political philosophy see: Rose, J. L. (2020). On the value of economic growth. Politics, Philosophy & Economics, 19(2), 128-153.; Vanderheiden, S. (2024). Hope Springs Eternal?. Ethics, Policy & Environment, 1-4.; Moellendorf, D. (2024). Mobilizing Hope Against Pessimism and Plutocracy. Ethics, Policy & Environment, 1-17.