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From Recycling to Recoupling: Towards a Philosophy of the Circular Economy in the EU

Grünsch, Jonny (2022) From Recycling to Recoupling: Towards a Philosophy of the Circular Economy in the EU.

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Abstract:I investigate how far the Circular Economy (CE) in the European Union (EU) contributes to sustainability and whether it could be improved conceptually. Methodologically, my approach bridges the disciplines of policy analysis and philosophy. I employ hermeneutic and normative reasoning in dialogue with concrete CE policy to develop philosophy from and for the EU. First, I conduct a discourse analysis of recent EU documents and show that even on a conceptual level the 2020 action plan relies on inadequate means, such as the circularity of closing material loops, and implausible goals, like decoupling economic growth from ecological pollution. Then, I reframe these concepts in a way that is more conducive to sustainability. Circularity could and should be understood as biomimicry. It captures the biological thinking characteristic of the CE in the EU and enhances its sustainability. Drawing on environmental philosophy and ecology, I defend a strong version that is based on imitating ecological values. Likewise, the CE could and should be understood to aim for recoupling economy with ecology. Drawing on a conceptual framework in ecological economics, I defend linking economy with ecology against metaphysical objections as well as unethical implications. Finally, I argue, there is a policy path toward such philosophy in the EU.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:08 philosophy, 88 social and public administration
Programme:Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society MSc (60024)
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