Wouter Peeters
University of Birmingham
What responsibilities does each of us have to reduce or limit our greenhouse gas emissions? Advocates of individual emissions reductions acknowledge that there are limits to what we can reasonably demand from individuals. Climate ethics has not yet systematically explored those limits. Instead, it has become popular to suggest that such judgements should be ‘context-sensitive’ but this does not tell us what role different contextual factors should play in our moral thinking. The current approach to theory development in climate ethics is not likely to be the most effective way to fill this gap. In existing work, climate ethicists use hypothetical cases to consider what can be reasonably demanded of individuals in particular situations. In contrast, ‘climate ethics with an ethnographic sensibility’ uses qualitative social science methods to collect original data in which real individuals describe their own situations. These real-life cases are more realistic, more detailed and cover a broader range of circumstances than hypothetical cases. Normative analysis of real-life cases can help us to develop a more systematic understanding of the role that different contextual factors should play in determining individual climate responsibilities. It can also help us to avoid the twin dangers of ‘idealization’ and ‘special pleading’.
Keywords climate change  climate ethics  individual responsibility  ethnography  idealisation  flying
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DOI 10.1007/s10806-019-09794-z
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It's Not My Fault: Global Warming and Individual Moral Obligations.Walter Sinnott-Armstrong - 2005 - In Walter Sinnott-Armstrong & Richard Howarth (eds.), Perspectives on Climate Change. Elsevier. pp. 221–253.

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