The Ethics of Inquiry, Scientific Belief, and Public Discourse

Public Affairs Quarterly 25 (3):197-215 (2011)
Authors
Lawrence Torcello
Rochester Institute of Technology
Abstract
The scientific consensus regarding anthropogenic climate change is firmly established yet climate change denialism, a species of what I call pseudoskepticism, is on the rise in industrial nations most responsible for climate change. Such denialism suggests the need for a robust ethics of inquiry and public discourse. In this paper I argue: (1) that ethical obligations of inquiry extend to every voting citizen insofar as citizens are bound together as a political body. (2) It is morally condemnable for public officials to put forward assertions contrary to scientific consensus when such consensus is decisive for public policy and legislation. (3) It is imperative upon educators, journalists, politicians and all those with greater access to the public forum to condemn, factually and ethically, pseudoskeptical assertions made in the public realm without equivocation.
Keywords John Rawls  W.K. Clifford  Public Reason  Climate Change  Inquiry  Belief  Ethics  Science  Global Warming
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