Challenging Sustainability. From Deconstruction to Reconstruction


  • Luca Valera Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
  • Gonzalo Salazar Preece Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile


Sustainability Ethics, Regulative Ethics, Environmental Ethics, Arne Ní¦ss


In recent decades the concept of sustainability has gained great prominence in the public debate and academic research as well. Today, it is a fundamental concept to address the complex crisis we are facing at planetary scales. However, after several decades, its definition is still associated with vague and ambiguous notions that are ultimately decimating its role as a guiding framework for a more sustainable living. There is still an important gap between its theory and its praxis. The article generates a philosophical deconstruction of the sustainability concept as a necessary action to address this difficulty. This examination allows to philosophically reconstruct fundamental characteristics of its content. The article suggests and argues that a relevant component of sustainability is its regulatory function in the sphere of human relations. It suggests and analyses that sustainability is a regulative idea that serves as a guide – a working concept – in the case of dilemmas that stem from the problem of maintaining responsibility towards future generations and the environment. From this standpoint, the article explores key aspects of sustainability as an ethically grounded concept and finally reflects about some applicative and educational implications.

Author Biographies

Luca Valera, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Director, Bioethics Centre. Associate Professor, Philosophy Department

Gonzalo Salazar Preece, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Local Development Centre




How to Cite

Valera, L., & Salazar Preece, G. (2020). Challenging Sustainability. From Deconstruction to Reconstruction. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 16(1), 298–315. Retrieved from