What’s the Harm in Climate Change?

Ethics, Policy and Environment 20 (1):103-117 (2017)
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A popular argument against direct duties for individuals to address climate change holds that only states and other powerful collective agents must act. It excuses individual actions as harmless since they are neither necessary nor sufficient to cause harm, arise through normal activity, and have no clear victims. Philosophers have challenged one or more of these assumptions; however, I show that this definition of harm also excuses states and other collective agents. I cite two examples of this in public discourse and suggest we reconsider the notion of harmful action in our discussions about climate change.



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Eric S. Godoy
Illinois State University

Citations of this work

Structural injustice.Maeve McKeown - 2021 - Philosophy Compass 16 (7):e12757.
Climate Barbarism.Jacob Blumenfeld - 2022 - Constellations 29 (forthcoming):1-17.
Individuals’ responsibilities to remove carbon.Hanna Schübel - forthcoming - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy.

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References found in this work

Group agency: the possibility, design, and status of corporate agents.Christian List & Philip Pettit - 2011 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Philip Pettit.
Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
Responsibility for Justice.Iris Marion Young - 2011 - , US: Oxford University Press USA.
The Tragedy of the Commons.Garrett Hardin - 1968 - Science 162 (3859):1243-1248.

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