Climate Change and Individual Responsibility

The Monist 94 (3):349-368 (2011)
Avram Hiller
Portland State University
Several philosophers claim that the greenhouse gas emissions from actions like a Sunday drive are so miniscule that they will make no difference whatsoever with regard to anthropogenic global climate change (AGCC) and its expected harms. This paper argues that this claim of individual causal inefficacy is false. First, if AGCC is not reducible at least in part to ordinary actions, then the cause would have to be a metaphysically odd emergent entity. Second, a plausible (dis-)utility calculation reveals that such actions have a not-insignificant amount of expected harm. One upshot is that the near-exclusive focus in the literature on AGCC as a collective action problem is too restricted. The paper also provides several moral psychological explanations of why it is so difficult to comprehend individual responsibility with regard to global phenomena, including a reappraisal of Thomas Nagel’s view of the absurd.
Keywords Climate change  Consequentialism  Deontology  Sinnott-Armstrong  The Absurd
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Reprint years 2014
DOI 10.5840/monist201194318
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Against Denialism.John Broome - 2019 - The Monist 102 (1):110-129.
Climate Change and Individual Duties to Reduce GHG Emissions.Christian Baatz - 2014 - Ethics, Policy and Environment 17 (1):1-19.
What’s Wrong with Joyguzzling?Ewan Kingston & Walter Sinnott-Armstrong - 2018 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (1):169-186.
Climate Change, Individual Emissions, and Foreseeing Harm.Chad Vance - 2017 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 14 (5):562-584.

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