Climate Change and the Moral Agent: Individual Duties in an Interdependent World

Hardcover | April 8, 2013

byElizabeth Cripps

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Many of us take it for granted that we ought to cooperate to tackle climate change. But where does this requirement come from, and what does it mean for us as individuals trying to do the right thing? Climate change does very great harm, to our fellow humans and to the non-human world, but noone causes it on their own and it isn't the result of intentionally collective action. In the face of the current failure of institutions to face up to the problem, is there anything we can do as individuals that will leave us able to live with ourselves? This book responds to these challenges. It makes a moral case for collective action on climate change by appealing to moralized collective self-interest, collective ability to aid, and an expanded understanding of collective responsibility for harm. On top of these, it argues that collective actionis something we owe to ourselves, as moral agents, because without it we are left facing marring choices. In the absence of collective action, individuals should focus on trying to promote such action (whether through or by bypassing existing institutions), with a supplementary duty to aid victimsdirectly. The argument is not that we should not be cutting our own emissions: this can be a necessary part of bringing about collective action or alleviating harm. However, such "green" lifestyle choices cannot be straightforwardly defended as duties in their own right, and they should not takepriority over trying to bring about collective change.

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Many of us take it for granted that we ought to cooperate to tackle climate change. But where does this requirement come from, and what does it mean for us as individuals trying to do the right thing? Climate change does very great harm, to our fellow humans and to the non-human world, but noone causes it on their own and it isn't the ...

Elizabeth Cripps completed her MPhil and PhD in political philosophy at University College London in 2008, before which she worked for four years as a journalist, primarily for the Financial Times Group. Her first degree was in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at St John's College, Oxford. She is a Lecturer in Political Theory and f...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pagesPublished:April 8, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199665656

ISBN - 13:9780199665655

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Table of Contents

1. IntroductionPart I: Climate Change and Us: Collective Self-interest, Collective Inaction, and Collective Harm2. In the Same Boat3. Doing and Preventing HarmPart II: Pushing the Boundaries: Duties to Whom?4. Harming and Protecting Non-HumansPart III: Climate Change and Me: What I Should Do When We Fail to act5. Mimicking Duties6. Promotional and Direct DutiesPart IV: Climate Change and Moral Baggage: Collective Failure, Individual Costs, and Marring Choices7. Living with OurselvesConclusionKey Claims and DefinitionsGlossary of Philosophical TermsBibliographyNotes