Pope Francis’s Encyclical Laudato Si’ and global environmental sustainability: a theoretical and empirical assessment

Zagonari, Fabio (2019) Pope Francis’s Encyclical Laudato Si’ and global environmental sustainability: a theoretical and empirical assessment. [Preprint]
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This paper examines the approach suggested by the Pope Francis’s Encyclical Laudato Si’ (i.e., an inter-disciplinary perspective that combines science and ethics), and theoretically and empirically assesses its scientific and ethical statements in terms of their ability to achieve global environmental sustainability. Scientific statements are shown to be empirically infeasible (e.g., personal fulfillment without population reduction), vague, obvious (e.g., climate as a common good, ecological debt of developed countries), and not novel (e.g., markets and environment in the a-growth paradigm, slowdown of production and consumption in the de-growth paradigm, ecosystem values independent of usefulness in the deep-ecology paradigm). Some ethical statements in the Encyclical are theoretically inconsistent with scientific disciplines (e.g., inter-generational solidarity vs. equity, individual organisms vs. whole species), vague, obvious (e.g., universal communion, happiness as limiting needs), or unnecessary (e.g., cruelty undermines human dignity, animals should not suffer or die needlessly), and thus, contribute little to achieving global sustainability; some other ethical statements are useful, but not novel (e.g., they have been proposed by Eastern Orthodoxy, Judaism, or Buddhism), late, or empirically unreliable (e.g., a contemplative lifestyle, the liberation provided by sobriety). In summary, Laudato Si’ is unsuccessful from a scientific perspective, and is inadequate from an ethical perspective.

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Zagonari, FabioUniversità di Bologna0000-0002-9872-8731
Pope Francis; Laudato Si’; global environmental sustainability; theoretical assessment; empirical assessment
Deposit date
28 Mar 2019 11:44
Last modified
23 May 2019 09:55

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