Keywords: theory of strong sustainability, sustainable development, normative theory, conception, Germany, justification, integrative sustainability
Building a 'theory of sustainable development': two salient conceptions within the German discourse
This paper identifies a lack in sustainability science, of a well-founded normative basis, for the justification of sustainable development. In order to fill this gap, we aim at calling attention to two of the salient conceptions in the German discourse, namely the 'Theory of Strong Sustainability' developed at the University of Greifswald and the 'Integrative Sustainability Concept' proposed by the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres (HGF), the biggest research institution in Germany. Both conceptions highly value the justification of a strong theoretical and normative core of sustainable development. This paper suggests that a well-founded 'theory of sustainable development' provides the distinctiveness that allows the assessment whether or not there is progress towards sustainability. A clear scientific comprehension of sustainability may inform politics in sustainability affairs and function as a rational corrective for the otherwise diffuse discussion in the general public.