October 29, 2013

On October 29, 2013, Melissa Lane gave a lecture in which she drew on classical political thinkers to explore a new ideal of citizenship for a sustainable society. Instead of separating the role of citizen from everyday work and family roles, Lane reformulates citizenship as the posture in which individuals carry out those roles in light of a broader understanding of their contribution to (or undermining of) the overall achievement of sustainability. By reshaping our understanding of the division of labor, sustainable citizenship entails a challenging rethinking of professional ethics and architectural practice. Here we present a video of Lane’s question and answer session with the League’s Executive Director, Rosalie Genevro, and audience members. Below, we publish the full text of Lane’s lecture, which is also available as a PDF for download.

Sustainable Citizenship by Melissa Lane

With its Five Thousand Pound[1] Life initiative, The Architectural League of New York is posing the question: what does a sustainable future look like, and what is the role of the architect in helping society move toward it? I think of this in terms of imagination and initiative: how do we imagine a sustainable future as a whole, and who has the power and the responsibility to take the initiative both in shaping that imagination, and in making it a reality? I’ll focus especially on the second question: what are the roles of architects and other professionals, as professionals and as what I’ll call cosmopolitan citizens, in taking initiatives for a sustainable future—and how do those roles differ from the way we might until now have imagined them?

What Does Sustainability Mean?

Before tackling that question in two main parts, we first have to get a sense of what sustainability means. A dictionary definition of that word would suggest simply something that is reproducible and able to be continued over time. But as an ethical and political ideal, we don’t want to sustain just anything—there’s no value in sustaining something bad or harmful. It must have ethics as much as science at its heart. As an aspiration, sustainability has to be taken to mean the production and reproduction of social and ecological relations that are valuable in themselves.

Sustainability does not by itself answer the question of value; it opens that question and invites debate as to how the values at its heart should be filled in.[2] In this case, where we are focused on the roles of professionals and citizens in achieving sustainability, I cannot settle the debate over just what is and isn’t good; instead, I suggest that it’s enough for this purpose to think of sustainability as a condition on any idea of the good that people or politicians might pursue. So one might pursue a career in publishing—sustainably; fight poverty—sustainably; raise children—sustainably. One might pursue liberal or conservative aims for society—sustainably. All of these only count as full goods when done in a sustainable manner. Sustainability doesn’t exhaustively specify the good, it constrains and conditions what can sensibly count as a good. It’s that role of sustainability as a “side-constraint” as philosophers call it, governing how we pursue other goals, that is my concern here.

For a society to be sustainable, it needs to produce the attitudes and ideas that underwrite its continuation. Let me rephrase that in an active voice: for us to co-produce a sustainable society is for us to engender in ourselves and coming generations its sustaining values—the values needed to animate and support our ongoing relationships with each other and with nature. A sustainable society must be a stable one, one with a mutually reinforcing—rather than undermining—relationship between the constitution and the citizens who make it up. That is a lesson I have drawn in my work from Plato’s Republic, which studies the dynamics of how to stabilize a society over time through the individual motivations that interact to produce and reproduce valuable social relationships. That social stability is at the heart of sustainability. We must move outward, to a citizenship for the cosmos: a cosmopolitan ethos that incorporates both social and natural relationships.

“No Role Without a Responsibility for the Whole”

What is the role of the architect (and of other professionals), as professionals and as citizens, in taking the initiative toward achieving sustainability? I propose that to best articulate the role of the architect in taking that initiative, we need to reimagine what it means for the architect to be a citizen, and conversely, to understand the task of each of us as citizens in facing environmental and social challenges, we need to reimagine the professional, occupational, and other roles we play in everyday life. To put this idea as a tweet-able slogan: “No role without a responsibility for the whole.”

That slogan encapsulates my essential proposal. It has two parts, each combating a pervasive, imaginative obstacle that blocks the necessary initiatives. The first obstacle is thinking of citizenship as a hat that we put on and off—or, in classical imagery, a robe or toga that we don metaphorically when we go to vote, but that we leave aside most of the time. Against that I draw on the ancient Greeks in an unfamiliar way, to undermine rather than reinforce such a simplistic division between citizenship and everyday life. Key aspects of Greek thought actually direct us to thinking about breaking that division down—emphasizing how to integrate all our social roles with being a citizen. I’ll sum up the first half of my case by saying that, properly understood, being a citizen becomes an adverb: one that inflects everything that we do. Because as a cosmopolitan citizen—understanding how citizenship extends to the whole of our relationship with nature—I do have responsibility for the whole.

The second obstacle is given by our faith in the current division of labor and the professional roles that it currently demarcates. The division of labor is an incredibly productive feature of modern society; however, it becomes an obstacle when we persuade ourselves that it functions automatically to produce the good of the whole—especially if the roles within it aren’t designed or monitored for doing so. A blind faith in the current division of labor results in blinkered tunnel vision, in which we are reluctant to raise our heads above the parapet to consider how well current professional norms are actually contributing to sustainable social value. We may even think that it’s unethical of us as professionals to act otherwise than according to the current norms. To clear away that obstacle and help the division of labor work better, I’ll explore how my adverbial understanding of professional roles as civic ones generates new antennae, ones that can reach above the tunnels and blinkers of professional roles as they are too often now understood. In sum, sustainable citizenship has to be both more demanding and more pervasive—more practical—in its relationship to professional roles in the division of labor than it is often taken to be.

The first obstacle—our tendency to believe that citizenship is the donning of an occasional costume or action—is a construction of citizenship in a commercial society inherited above all from Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and is profoundly un-differentiated as to other social roles. It tells us that as citizens we are all equal and the same; and that to act as a citizen requires us to turn away from our private concerns, to leave them behind, so that our common civic identity will not be sullied. Citizens are expected to put on a mental toga from time to time, to elevate themselves for that brief period by averting their eyes from their private roles and pursuits, and to make a sharp distinction between acting as “man” and acting as “citizen,” to quote Judith Shklar’s incisive analysis of Rousseau.

Yet this ideal of citizenship makes it seem irrelevant, even utopian, for it asks people to turn their backs from time to time on what the modern economy prescribes as their main and proper occupation in order to exercise a civic identity that sits uncomfortably with their everyday lives, and seems doomed to be only an occasional and reluctant pastime. Indeed, dwelling on citizenship in political theory is all too often an empty piety, simply blinding us to the real pressures, divisions, and preoccupations of modern life.

Yet Rousseau’s mythical construction of the classical citizen is not true to the deeper understanding of the ancient Greeks—an understanding that offers us a clue to overcome the obstacle of this misconstruction. For in classical Greek, there is a close etymological connection between the word “citizen”—polites––and a word describing the society as a whole: politeia. Politeia is often translated as “constitution.” But embodied in the Greek word is an original sense of constitution that is far broader than the idea of a single written document of the kind on display in the National Archives in Washington D.C. Politeia evokes a constitution as a specific kind of ordering and structure, as what in French is called a regimen, the characteristic makeup and way of life that maintains a body in good health. In fact, the original Greek title of the book that we call Plato’s Republic is Politeia—not a reference to a particular kind of constitution, but to this deeper understanding of the nature of a constitution as such.

This sense of constitution as a specific kind of ordered regime applies to natural bodies as much as to political bodies. The comparison shows why the word “constitution” may go beyond the narrowly political definition to mean a way of life—and why a constitution is integral to sustainability. A person has a strong constitution if she is able to sustain her internal balance and order, warding off disorganization by rogue cells or invasion by harmful foreign bodies. A political body has a strong constitution if it is able to sustain its internal balance and order, warding off disorganization by rogue disaffected groups or invasion by harmful foreign bodies. And there is a connection between the two. A constitution is most fundamentally what animates the condition of being a citizen.[3]  Conversely, only a certain ordering of the habits and values of a group of citizens will serve to maintain the customs and principles animating a particular way of life. The citizens can sustain—or undermine—the constitution; the constitution can sustain—or undermine—the construction of citizens. So to be a citizen is to be a co-producer of social and ecological relations. The ideal of sustainability must involve an ideal of sustainable citizenship, in which the relations that one helps to produce are themselves sustainable.

How can this discussion of citizenship be relevant to architecture as a global profession? The mission of The Architectural League—to advance the art of architecture—is not limited by any particular geographical or political boundaries, and its interpretation of that mission includes presenting “the work and ideas of the world’s most interesting and influential architects and designers to New York, national and international audiences.”  Does an ethos of citizenship seem ill-suited to advancing those global and globalizing ideals?

Fortunately, the Greeks can help us here too. When Cynic and Stoic thinkers invented the idea of cosmopolitanism in the late 4th and early 3rd centuries B.C., they construed it not as a negation of citizenship, but as a natural and appropriate enlargement of it. Our English word “cosmopolitan” comes from the Greek kosmopolites—that same root of polites (citizen), but now affixed to the word kosmos, referring to the universe as an ordered whole. Stoic thinkers suggested precisely what modern ecological consciousness is rediscovering: the very relationships and capacities that underwrite (national) citizenship do not automatically stop or run out of steam at the borders drawn on a map. Rather, the relationships that we co-produce begin at the level of one’s own body (related to what is now called proprioception, or a sense of one’s own body in space), continue out to the domain of family, local community, and state or polis, and then beyond to the relationships among all human beings and their affinity for sustaining the order of the natural world.[4]

The ex-slave Epictetus, living on the cusp of the 1st to 2nd centuries A.D. (c.55-135), offers an evocative account of this perspective:

1. Consider who you are. First of all a human being, and this means that you have nothing more authoritative than your power of moral choice and everything else is subordinate to it, but it itself is free and independent. 2. Consider, then, what you are separate from in virtue of your rationality. You are separate from wild beasts and from sheep. 3. And in addition you are a citizen of the cosmos and a part of it—not one of the servile parts but one of its principal parts. For you are able to follow the divine administration and figure out what comes next. 4. So, what is the commitment of a citizen? To have no private advantage, not to deliberate about anything as though one were a separate part but just as if the hand or foot had reasoning power and were able to follow the arrangements of nature, they would never have sought or desired anything except after referring to the whole. [5]

Epictetus affirms to his reader that “you are a citizen of the cosmos [or, the world]” (polites ei tou kosmou) (D. 2.10.3). As such, you are invited to think about your own good as indissoluble, when rightly understood, from the good of that whole. Just as a part of your body would never think (if it could think—Epictetus acknowledges that he is running a little thought experiment in this analogy) that it could flourish or succeed if it did so at the cost of the body’s overall health, so it is only on the basis of a shallow misunderstanding that you can construe your own personal good or self-interest at the cost of the overall wellbeing of the natural world and its human constituents.

A Profession of Values

So here we find the ultimate source and context for my slogan: “No role without a responsibility for the whole.” It is the very nature of a citizen to be a part of a broader constitution, such that her actions either undermine its order or contribute to sustaining it—and that is true in the context of the cosmic order as well as at more local levels. There’s no other choice; no way to opt out. All our roles are in the context of a whole.   Here is how business executive Ray C. Anderson put it to an audience of his peers: “We are all part of the continuum of humanity and life. We will have lived our brief span and either helped or hurt that continuum and the earth that sustains all life. It’s that simple. Which will it be?”[6]

That may seem too easy an assertion, and I would certainly acknowledge that it offers the starting point of a discussion rather than a full conclusion. The merit of this perspective is not that it settles all our potential disagreements or tells us exactly what to do, but rather that it reorients—even upends—our expectations. It puts pressure on any temptation to think that what conflicts with our ability to sustain valuable goods and relationships over time could ever make sense as a goal to pursue, even in the short term. It is that reorientation that reimagining ourselves as cosmopolitan citizens invites—a sense of not settling for the apparent conflict and picking sides, but rather challenging ourselves to question if long-term harmony is possible, if it’s essential, and what that means for immediate choices.

I hope that by now you have a sense of what I mean by “no role without a responsibility for the whole.” As I now turn from cosmopolitan citizenship to a discussion of professional roles, we can take one more clue from Epictetus. Recall the question he posed: “what is the commitment of a citizen?”  The word “commitment” there translates the Greek word ἐππαγελία (pronounced eppangelia), which can more generally mean “offer, promise, profession, undertaking.”[7] To be a citizen is to make a certain profession, a profession of values. But professionals, too, are people who make professions: the word comes from the Latin professio, “I avow, I declare.”[8] That helps us to see why it’s crucial to bring civic commitments into professional roles, lest our commitments in one role inflict damage on our commitments in the other. What we profess as professionals has to be suitably inflected by what we profess as citizens. When it comes to how we practice our professional roles, citizenship—citizenness—is an adverb, conditioning all the other avowals and declarations and commitments we may make.

That brings me to the second half of my argument, on professional roles and the role of the architect in particular. As I’ve been arguing in abstract terms so far, I’ll begin this portion with the story of the businessman I quoted earlier: Ray C. Anderson, founder and CEO of Interface, a global modular Carpets company founded in Georgia.

Anderson was a hard-nosed businessman who was asked by a shareholder to describe his firm’s environmental policies. The query prompted him to read the book The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken, which led him to the stunning realization, as he put it, that he was “a legal thief” [emphasis original]. “The perverse tax laws, by failing to correct the errant market to internalize those externalities such as the costs of global warming and pollution,” he said, “are my accomplices in crime.” This recognition led him, in 1994, at age 60, to reform the firm’s mission to a radical goal: “to convert Interface into a restorative enterprise, first to reach sustainability, then to become restorative…doing good to Earth, not just no harm—by helping or influencing others to reach towards sustainability.” The goal of pursuing an ultimate good came to define the company’s new mission.

This new strategy did not abandon the business goal of attaining value. Instead, it redefined the parameters of value by adopting a target of zero waste and radically redefining what waste means: “We define waste,” Anderson wrote, “as any cost that goes into our product that does not produce value for our customers. Value, of course, embraces product quality and more—aesthetics, utility, durability, resource efficiency. Since in pursuit of maximum value any waste is bad, Anderson began measuring progress against a zero-based waste goal.” The company’s redefinition of waste went even further, later declaring “all energy that is derived from fossil fuels to be waste, waste to be eliminated systematically, first through efficiency improvement and, eventually, to be replaced by renewable energy.”[9] Finally, Anderson adopted this view not just because he thought it was the right thing to do, but because he decided that it was the smart thing to do: he saw his new strategy as much of a business strategy—a strategy for producing value—as his original strategy of modular carpet tiles.[10]

We can take Ray Anderson’s story as a starting point for thinking about the redefinition of professional roles—a redefinition that is necessary because our way of living out professional roles tends today to run up against a second obstacle. This obstacle is the faith that the division of labor, which has produced so much wealth and social value, must be working for the overall good, even where it is demonstrably producing unsustainable outcomes. That faith in the invisible hand producing social good prevents us from seeing that the roles we play in the market may need to be redefined in line with the newly understood challenges of sustainability, to make sure that they produce social good rather than harm.

Faith in the invisible hand of the market as it currently functions is rooted in an indisputable insight: that the division of labor is the fundamental structure of modern economic society. As analyzed by the 18th-century economist Adam Smith, the division of labor assigns each economic participant a particular specialized role, which increases everyone’s productivity and so betters society overall. Playing the role of a butcher or baker—or lawyer or architect—in the division of labor means that you don’t personally have to try to work out what contribution you can best make to society. Rather, you just get on with it, trusting that the unintended consequences of your private actions will benefit others. As Smith famously put it in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (Book I, chapter ii), “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

The danger comes when some of the unintended consequences are negative as well as positive, and when these consequences have not been taken into account in the formulation of market rules and roles. This is exactly the current problem producing unsustainable side effects. The unintended consequences of fossil-fueled economic development are starting to hit the wall of ecological sustainability. So the great solutionfor modernity, outlined by Smith and his fellow theorists of commercial society to provide simultaneously for individual satisfaction and social benefit, has now become part of the problem—at least until we realize that what we feed into the division of labor, the roles and rules that go into it, determine the value of what we will get out. The division of labor is a mechanism; an invaluable mechanism, but only a mechanism. If unsustainable conceptions of self-interest and occupational roles are fed into it, unsustainable outcomes are likely to emerge, unless some redefined rules or roles intervene. To put it another way, we can’t take the slogan “no role without a responsibility for the whole” to be automatically achieved. The social contract that professionals have with society needs to be constantly revisited.[11] If the current division of labor is driving or permitting unsustainable actions, it is no longer possible for professionals to hide behind the terms of the social contract that have been in force when those terms are themselves part of the problem. Instead it is incumbent on professionals to ask: to what extent is my profession driving unsustainable rather than sustainable decisions? If the former, what norms and duties need to be rethought in order to achieve a proper—sustainable—professional role?

To address those questions it helps to pause for a moment on the nature of the professions. As I suggested earlier, to practice a profession is to declare one’s commitment, to avow a purpose. Drawing on the work of other scholars, we can further explain that a profession involves a claim to special knowledge and an allegiance to something beyond self-interest.[12] That goal beyond self-interest is understood as connecting to a key aspect of the wellbeing and flourishing of all living things (some scholars say “human,” but that’s precisely the kind of limitation that sustainability invites us to expand). Such a goal offers the “guiding ideals” of the profession that its practitioners internalize.[13]

This idea has a pedigree in the ancient Greeks as well. Plato argued that each techne—craft or skill or expertise—is defined by the good of its object. One may make money by practicing a techne, but that is incidental to its intrinsic purpose of pursuing a certain kind of good.[14] To put this in more modern language: professionals have fiduciary responsibilities to their clients or patients—and those in turn need to be construed ultimately in terms of a general responsibility to a particular kind of good, one that has to be understood in light of the idea of sustainable cosmopolitan citizenship that I have surveyed. We can say that professionals are trustees of the good: to act as a trustee is to think about long-term good and to make that good a guiding ideal for one’s decisions. Again, Plato is ahead of us here: his Republic proposes the need for guardians who understood the good and can orient social action toward it. The difference, in today’s democratic society, is that all citizens need to take on the mantle of guardian of the earth and of future generations. The philosopher Tim Mulgan suggests that “present people” are the Platonic “guardians of future people,” finding ourselves “obliged” to take on this role of “responsibility for the future” and the “moral and epistemic” duties that go with it.[15] I would extend that to guardians of the social and ecological relations between earth and people over time.

The role of a guardian requires constant reassessment of what the future good involves and how to act now to meet it. That means that professionals and citizens can’t hide behind the current division of labor, trusting that it will produce the social good even in the face of mounting evidence that it won’t. Only an ethos of sustainable citizenship and a concomitant reimagining of professional roles can ensure that the division of labor supports, rather than undermines, sustainable practices.[16]

Ways Forward: Architect as Advisor

How might this work in practice? We can think of developing multiple antennae: attuned to the broader context, stretching out beyond any given delineation of tasks and roles to be alert to their implications, good and bad. A first set of antennae checks whether one’s practice is best suited to the current standards of the role.

This is expressed well by the two scholars Justin Oakley and Dean Cocking: “One must…be able to demonstrate how one’s particular role within that profession contributes to the overall goal of that profession.”[17]  That can already be a radical idea—it was by beginning at that first level, thinking about his company’s mission to create value, that Ray C. Anderson began to shake up Interface.

A second set of antennae works to test those current standards, with fellow professionals, against the larger goods of sustainable citizenship. Consider the example of economists, who might want to test their definition of economic growth against a redefinition offered by the ecological economist Herman Daly. He suggests that economists stop treating production as a good. Instead they should treat it as a cost, to be minimized. This is because producing any good uses up resources and energy, hence costs us as well as deprives us of their substitution possibilities by depleting the stock of resources and energy. Why produce a new object or structure whenever production is not absolutely necessary? This turns the ideology of GDP on its head, and shows the kind of radical rethinking in which professionals confronting the demands of sustainability might engage.[18]

Such second-level reconsiderations of what professional standards should be can even lead to a third set of antennae. These are attuned to legal and political change, and alert citizens and professionals to the way that transforming laws and regulations might actually help them to better carry out their own cosmopolitan and civic roles. Imagine at this third level, for example, pesticides regulators pressing to be required to consider the interaction of different chemicals, rather than their risks to health and environment only in isolation. Or American accountants pressing to adopt the International Accounting Standards Board’s focus on compliance with moral duties and general principles, as opposed to the American GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) that take a narrowly legalistic approach of compliance with particular regulations, excluding consideration of whether, all things considered, a set of accounts gives a fair overall picture relative to all major factors and concerns.

What might these three levels of antennae mean for architects? We might posit that the aim of an architect in the present age is the sustainability of spaces and the structures that they harbor. In that light, both architect and client are trustees for the site: for the sustainability of its spaces and structures and the social and ecological relations they will foster. It’s a crucial feature of the architectural profession that the clients control access to spaces and so control the possibility of building anything at all. That puts the architect in the role of an advisor, akin to the way that Plato thought (in his dialogue Statesman)that someone with political knowledge might either make decisions directly or else advise someone with the power to do so. How can an advisor or counselor succeed in inspiring a client to pursue the good that they are both entrusted with serving? Here we can draw on a long tradition in the history of political thought of “mirrors for princes” or, more broadly, advice to rulers. Men like Thomas More, Niccolò Machiavelli, and many others explored the ethical challenges of giving advice to rulers, especially in the 16th century, though drawing on a tradition with classical roots in Isocrates, Seneca, and others. They knew that this was no easy task; the dangers of submerging one’s judgment in flattery to win a job, on the one hand, or of being rejected by the ruler on the other (something that could lead to losing not only one’s job or position, but also one’s head), were both great. Yet the duty remained on the advisor to chart a course between these twin dangers, using the skills of persuasion and judgment to try to awaken the client’s enthusiasm for the best path.

As the architectural profession debates these challenges of how to redefine and exercise its professional calling, I would urge that this be done in light of the idea of “no role without responsibility for the whole.” As each of us rethinks our profession in that light, we’ll see that we need to extend our antennae above the parapet of our current role definitions, to attend to needs, harms, and possibilities that the current division of labor obscures. As we think about the responsibilities of citizens and of professionals alike, we must recognize that the ideas of unintended consequences and the complex modern division of labor have reached their limit. We can no longer afford to license social roles or standards which manifest indifference or even hostility to their effects—intended and unintended—on the health of society as a whole. As Justin Oakley and Dean Cocking observe about blinkered professional ethics, “the vices of one’s calling become the vices of oneself,” as they add, “unless one refuses to practise them.”[19]

What if we resist this call?  Plato’s Republic offers one last chilling image of what happens when people reject any responsibility for the whole. This is the inherently unstable, and unsustainable, case of an oligarchy that is so class-divided between rich and poor that it fails to count as a single unified polity at all: “of necessity it isn’t one city but two—one of the poor and one of the rich—living in the same place and always plotting against one another” (551d).[20] Willfully blinkered professionals are like the warring rich and poor in the oligarchy that Plato decries: they act as if they are independent of the overall politeia, rather than jointly responsible for co-producing its integrity and health.

Adam Smith’s heedless rich lived in a time in the 18th century when they had the luxury to indulge themselves, creating jobs without (so far as they believed) causing social harm. We do not have that luxury. Only a fundamental reimagining of our roles and ourselves, of our professions, and our identities as citizens and how they fit together, can generate the initiatives needed to achieve a sufficiently sustainable society sufficiently soon, lest we suffer the fate described by Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the words: ‘too late’…”[21]


The Five Thousand Pound Life: Sustainable Citizenship | Q&A with Melissa Lane


Melissa Lane is professor of politics at Princeton University, where she is also Director of the Program in Values and Public Life at the University Center for Human Values and a core participant in an interdisciplinary Research Community on “Communicating Uncertainty: Science, Institutions, and Ethics in the Politics of Global Climate Change,” supported by the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies.  Professor Lane is also an associated faculty member in the departments of classics and philosophy at Princeton.  She is the author of Method and Politics in Plato’s “Statesman” and Plato’s Progeny: How Plato and Socrates Still Captivate the Modern Mind, as well as Eco-Republic: What the Ancients Can Teach Us About Ethics, Virtue, and Sustainable Living, published by Princeton University Press in 2012.



[1] As the founding document for the project explains, 5,000 pounds is a bit more than two metric tons of carbon-dioxide-equivalent, which is the per capita emissions limit for 2050 that Sir Nicholas Stern has proposed (Nicholas Stern’s review of Bill McKibben’s Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet in The New York Review of Books, paragraph 30, published on June 24, 2010; as cited in “The Five Thousand Pound Life” online document published by The Architectural League of New York in September 2013).

[2] Note Amartya Sen’s cautionary words: “…sustaining living standards is not the same thing as sustaining people’s freedom to have—or safeguard—what they value and to which they have reason to attach importance,” in his “Why Exactly is Commitment Important for Rationality?” in Rationality and Commitment, ed. Fabienne Peter and Hans Bernhard Schmid, 17-27. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007, at 23.

[3] This is how it is used in Herodotus 9.34, which is the “first extant occurrence [of politeia] in a non-fragmentary text of known authorship,” as put in Harte and Lane 2013: 1, on which this paragraph draws more generally.

[4] For a further development of an ideal of “rooted cosmopolitanism” see Anthony Appiah, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. WW Norton & Company Incorporated, 2006.

[5] As translated in Brad Inwood and Lloyd P. Gerson, trans., The Stoics ReaderSelected Writings and Testimonia. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub. Co., Inc, 2008, text 144. This is from Epictetus Discourses 2.10. Inwood and Gerson subdivide it differently from a standard reference work, Long and Sedley (abbreviated LS), who in their text put all of what Inwood and Gerson divide into sentences 3-4 into 2.10.3. See A.A. Long, and D. N. Sedley, eds. The Hellenistic Philosophers. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire]; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987, text 59Q.

[6] Ray C. Anderson, in the obituary written by Paul Vitello, “Ray Anderson, Businessman Turned Environmentalist, Dies at 77,” New York Times online, August 10, 2011 [a version appearing in the New York print edition, August 11, 2011].

[7] The standard Greek dictionary LSJ (Liddell, Scott, and Jones), as available on the classics website Perseus (www.perseus.tufts.edu).

[8] Edmund D. Pellegrino, “Professing medicine, virtue based ethics, and the retrieval of professionalism,” in Rebecca L. Walker and Philip J. Ivanhoe (eds), Working Virtue: Virtue Ethics and Contemporary Moral Problems. Oxford : New York: Clarendon Press; Oxford University Press, 2007, 62, cites the OED as linking it to the passive verb form profiteri, but I find the active verb form an easier one to present to non-classicist audiences.

[9] Ray C. Anderson, Mid-Course Correction: Toward a Sustainable Enterprise. The Interface Model (Atlanta: Peregrinzilla Press, 1998), quoting in this paragraph from 15 and 16. I have no access to independent verification of Interface’s achievements; my interest here is primarily in the way of thinking demonstrated in Anderson’s writing, not in validating specific measures or claims by him or by the company. Anderson extended the story in a second book: Ray C. Anderson with Robin White, Confessions of a Radical IndustrialistProfits, People, Purpose—Doing Business by Respecting the Earth (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 2009). These paragraphs in particular (as well as aspects of this argument more generally) are drawn from Melissa Lane, Eco-Republic: What the Ancients Can Teach Us About Ethics, Virtue, and Sustainable Living. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012.

[10] Ray C. Anderson, Mid-Course Correction, quoting in this paragraph from 7, 43, 43, 45, and 40, respectively.

[11] The idea of a “social contract” is developed for the professional role of scientists in Robert O. Keohane, Melissa Lane, and Michael Oppenheimer, “The ethics of scientific communication under uncertainty,” forthcoming in the journal Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

[12] Pellegrino, “Professing medicine,” as cited above, 62.

[13] Justin Oakley and Dean Cocking, Virtue Ethics and Professional Roles(Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 87; note that at 80-81 they rather (I think unfairly) downplay architecture as a profession based on treating the good to which it contributes as less central than that of law or medicine.

[14] This aspect of Plato’s thinking has been developed in connection with the modern economy in the unpublished doctoral thesis of Jonathan (Jonny) Thakkar, “Can There Be Philosopher-kings in a Liberal Polity? A Reinterpretation and Reappropriation of the Ideal Theory in Plato’s Republic,” submitted and approved by the University of Chicago, 2013.

[15] Unpublished lecture by Tim Mulgan, “God, Science, and the Ethics of Belief.” Dan and Gwen Taylor Memorial Lecture. University of Otago, August 24, 2011.

[16] This expresses ideas in my book Eco-Republic, that are also explored in Jonny Thakkar’s thesis (esp. 231) as cited above.

[17] Oakley and Cocking, Virtue Ethics and Professional Roles, as cited above, 117.

[18] Herman E. Daly, “A Steady-State Economy,” opinion piece for the Sustainable Development Commission (UK), 24 July 2008, available online at: http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/publications.php?id=775 (now an archive site as the Commission has closed; the link worked as of 28 October 2013).

[19] Oakley and Cocking, Virtue Ethics and Professional Roles, as cited above, 171.

[20] Translation by G.M.A. Grube, revised C.D.C. Reeve, in John M. Cooper (ed.) with D.M. Hutchinson, Plato. Complete Works (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997).

[21] Martin Luther King, Jr., “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” speech on 4 April 1967 to a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City, cited from http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2564.htm. I am grateful to Harold and Vivien Shapiro for having suggested this quotation in commenting on a presentation of the ideas of Eco-Republic. More generally, I should like to thank Michael Lamb for research assistance on which this piece draws, funded in part by the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies research community on “Communicating Uncertainty: Science, Institutions, and Ethics in the Politics of Global Climate Change.” And I should like to acknowledge the honor of having delivered the 2012 Navin Narayan Memorial Lecture in Social Studies at Harvard University on the related topic of Eco-Republic: Plato and Sustainable Citizenship, on parts of which the present text draws.