Justice and Climate Change: Toward a Libertarian Analysis

The Independent Review 14 (2):219-237 (2009)

Abstract

Global climate change is one of the most widely discussed problems of our time. However, many libertarian thinkers have not participated in the ethical dimensions of this discussion due to a narrow focus on the scientific basis for concern about climate change. In this paper, I reject this approach and explore the kind of response libertarians should be offering instead. I frame the climate change problem as one which concerns potential rights-infringements and explore different ways in which climate change might be thought to infringe upon rights. I conclude that there are some ways in which climate change might be expected to result in rights-infringements, but that some of the current concern about climate change cannot be reconciled with a rights-oriented paradigm. I close by outlining future directions for research, emphasizing that much remains to be done in order to formulate a complete libertarian perspective on climate change.

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