Come as you are? Public Reason and Climate Change

Res Publica 28 (1):17-32 (2022)


The likely adverse effects of climate change call for political action. In this paper, we argue that the public reason framework—with its insistence on justifiability to all reasonable citizens, in spite of their profound disagreements—despite initial misgivings recommends itself as a framework for debate and decisions pertaining to climate change. We address two possible stumbling blocks: the exclusion of non-anthropocentric points of view, and the controversy over intergenerational justice. We argue that public reason can deal with these problems. Moreover, we argue that both strongly idealized and moderately idealized versions are able to address these issues. Moreover, public reason, as a family of views emphasizing disagreement and justifiability to all reasonable citizens, can help secure the stability of political orders, and hence contribute to sustained and demanding efforts to combat the adverse effects of climate change.

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Morten Nielsen
University of Copenhagen

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