Studies in Christian Ethics 24 (1):5-22 (2011)

This paper argues that given the importance of joining together local and global aspects of climate change, individual conscience needs to be complemented by critical consideration of collective forms of conscience. Evidence for the existence of such collective forms as relevant to climate debates can be found in public reactions to email leaks on climate science, dubbed ‘Climategate’ in the processes leading up to the United Nations Summit on Climate Change, COP-15. In critical engagement with Emile Durkheim’s conscience collective and Bernard Häring’s reciprocal consciences, I argue for collective conscience to be used as a heuristic tool in order to analyse both weaknesses in collective responsibility and appropriate actions of communities at local, national or international levels. I suggest that such an approach critically engages with more general notions such as the role of solidarity in public debate that both develops and critiques Jürgen Habermas’s more recent work opening up a religious voice in the public domain. Using an experiential case study from the Massai tribe, I intend to show just one way in which collective conscience might be expressed when faced with the problems associated with climate change
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DOI 10.1177/0953946810389115
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