The Ethics of Cities

Shaping Policy for a Sustainable and Just Future

By Timothy Beatley

248 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7863-4
    Published: April 2024
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-7862-7
    Published: April 2024
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-7864-1
    Published: April 2024

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Ethical dilemmas and value conflicts affect cities globally, but urban leaders and citizens often avoid confronting them directly and instead view the governance of cities as primarily an administrative task or, even worse, a merely political one. Timothy Beatley challenges readers to consider the issues in our cities not simply as legal or economic problems but as moral ones, asking readers “How can a city become more ethical?” Beatley unearths, exposes, and explores the many ethical questions cities face today and touches on many topics, from privacy and crime to racism and the ethics of public space. Drawing from recent policy debates and using extensive examples to consider complex ethical dilemmas, Beatley argues that cities must expand the definition of the moral community to include all their citizens.

Cities must take profound steps to address social injustice and plan for climate change—both moral obligations—and this approachable and readable introduction to moral philosophy, urban planning, and social justice will help new generations to grapple with these global issues.

About the Author

Timothy Beatley is the Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities in the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning at the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture and is the author of several books, including Ethical Land Use: Principles of Policy and Planning.

For more information about Timothy Beatley, visit the Author Page.


“With sound scholarship and relevant case studies, this book will start conversations and appeal to a broad range of readers. A comprehensive introduction to the idea of ethical cities.”—R. Alfred Vick, University of Georgia

"Beatley deftly tackles a wide range of contemporary issues, like privacy and technology, and perennial issues, such as equity and democratic processes, with compelling detail. In this timely and impressive book, he goes a long way toward rectifying the short supply of scholarship on the topic of ethics and cities."—Nikhil Kaza, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill