David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 22 (2):109-124 (2009)
The actions performed by individuals, as consumers and citizens, have aggregate negative consequences for the environment. The question asked in this paper is to what extent it is reasonable to hold individuals and institutions responsible for environmental problems. A distinction is made between backward-looking and forward-looking responsibility. Previously, individuals were not seen as being responsible for environmental problems, but an idea that is now sometimes implicitly or explicitly embraced in the public debate on environmental problems is that individuals are appropriate targets for blame when they perform actions that are harmful to the environment. This idea is criticized in this paper. It is argued that instead of blaming individuals for performing actions that are not environmentally friendly we should ascribe forward-looking responsibility to individuals, a notion that focuses more on capacity and resources than causation and blameworthiness. Furthermore, it is important to emphasize that a great share of forward-looking responsibility should also be ascribed to institutional agents, primarily governments and corporations. The urge to ascribe forward-looking responsibility to institutional agents is motivated by the efficiency aim of responsibility distributions. Simply put, if responsibility is ascribed to governments and corporations there is a better chance of creating a society in which the opportunities to act in an environmentally friendly way increase.
|Keywords||Individual responsibility Environmental problems Ethical consumers Forward-looking responsibility Institutional responsibility|
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Citations of this work BETA
Neelke Doorn (2012). Responsibility Ascriptions in Technology Development and Engineering: Three Perspectives. [REVIEW] Science and Engineering Ethics 18 (1):69-90.
Erik de Bakker & Hans Dagevos (2012). Reducing Meat Consumption in Today's Consumer Society: Questioning the Citizen-Consumer Gap. [REVIEW] Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 25 (6):877-894.
Ibo van de Poel, Jessica Nihlén Fahlquist, Neelke Doorn, Sjoerd Zwart & Lambèr Royakkers (2012). The Problem of Many Hands: Climate Change as an Example. Science and Engineering Ethics 18 (1):49-67.
Anne Schwenkenbecher (2012). Is There an Obligation to Reduce One’s Individual Carbon Footprint? Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy (2):1-21.
Franco Palazzi (2014). Would Human Extinction Be Morally Wrong? Philosophia 42 (4):1063-1084.
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