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The Impasses of Ecological Representation

Kerry H. Whiteside

Environmental Values 22 (2013): 339-358. doi: 10.3197/096327113X13648087563700


Calls for new forms of representation to protect the interests of future generations and non-human species have become common among green theorists. Examining these proposals critically, this article finds, first, that 'ecological representation' contradicts the virtues traditionally associated with representative government: creating a circuit of legitimacy between voters and political authorities; preventing abuses of power; keeping law neutral with respect to the worth of competing values. It concludes, second, that our environmental predicament is not essentially the fault of inadequate representation. The logic of representation itself is part of the problem. Ecological democrats must look to other participatory models.


Ecological democracy; deliberation; future generations; surrogate representation; environmental proxies

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