Citizen Action Monitor

Chapter 4 of “Prosperity without Growth” — Tim Jackson finds himself on the horns of a dilemma.

“The Dilemma of Growth” — Growth looks ecologically unsustainable; Yet it appears essential for lasting prosperity.

No 2058 Posted by fw, September 20, 2017

To access all other synopses from Prosperity without Growth, click on the Tab titled “Prosperity without Growth” — Links to All Posts in the top left margin. 

Tim Jackson

In Chapter 3, Redefining Prosperity, of his book, Prosperity without Growth, ecological economist Tim Jackson concludes that “We can redefine prosperity in coherent, meaningful ways: for instance, in terms of the capabilities that people have to flourish.” However, he cautions, “It would be foolish to think that it will be easy to achieve.”

Which leads, appropriately, to the subject of Chapter 4 – “The Dilemma of Growth” – an exposition of the pivotal question: “Could it be that, without growth, our ability to flourish diminishes entirely?”

Today’s post is a synopsis of Jackson’s very short introduction to Chapter 4.  (For my own purposes, I label this synopsis Section 1, and title it “Introduction”, neither of which is used by the author).

Tim Jackson is a British ecological economist and professor of sustainable development at the University of Surrey.


Introduction, a synopsis, from Chapter 4, “The Dilemma of Growth” of Tim Jackson’s book, Prosperity without Growth, Routledge, 2nd edition, 2016-17

Tim Jackson declares that any one of three related propositions, discussed at length in the previous chapter, could place us on the “horns of an extremely uncomfortable dilemma”:

The first is that material opulence – though not synonymous with prosperity – is a necessary condition for flourishing.

The second is that economic growth is closely correlated with certain basic entitlements – health or education, perhaps – that are in themselves essential for prosperity.

The third is that growth is functional in maintaining economic and social stability.

How could any one of these propositions frustrate our efforts to attain prosperity without growth? Jackson frames the dilemma these propositions could create this way:

“on the one hand, continued growth looks ecologically unsustainable”;

“on the other, it appears essential for lasting prosperity”.

Is there any way out of this seemingly intractable impasse?

Stay tuned for synopses of the other three sections in Chapter 4.

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