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Climate Change and Individual Moral Responsibility. Lecture 4 Environmental Ethics in Teaching Social Sciences and Humanities The Third Summer School Nakhabino, Moscow July 1-15, 2009 Dale Jamieson New York University Dwj3@nyu.edu.

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climate change and individual moral responsibility

Climate Change and Individual Moral Responsibility

Lecture 4

Environmental Ethics in Teaching Social Sciences and Humanities

The Third Summer School

Nakhabino, Moscow

July 1-15, 2009

Dale Jamieson

New York University

Dwj3@nyu.edu

slide2
Example 1: Jack intentionally steals Jill’s bike.

Example 2: Jack is part of an unacquainted group of strangers, each of which, acting independently, takes one part of Jill’s bike, resulting in the bike’s disappearance.

Example 3: Jack takes one part from each of a large number of bikes, one of which belongs to Jill.

Example 4: Jack and Jill live on different continents, and the loss of Jill’s bike is the consequence of a causal chain that begins with Jack ordering a used bike at a shop.

Example 5: Jack lives many centuries before Jill, and consumes materials that are essential to bike manufacturing; as a result, it will not be possible for Jill to have a bicycle.

example 6
Example 6

Acting independently, Jack and a large number of unacquainted people set in motion a chain of events that causes a large number of future people who will live in another part of the world, from ever having bikes.

slide4
When people feel insulted or disgusted, they generally do something about it, such as whacking each other over the head, or voting. Moral emotions are the brain’s call to action. Although all human societies have moral rules about food and sex, none has a moral rule about atmospheric chemistry. And so we are outraged about every breach of protocol except Kyoto. Yes, global warming is bad, but it doesn’t make us feel nauseated or angry or disgraced, and thus we don’t feel compelled to rail against it as we do against other momentous threats to our species, such as flag burning. The fact is that if climate change were caused by gay sex, or by the –practice of eating kittens, millions of protesters would be massing in the streets.” –Daniel Gilbert
conclusion
Conclusion

Climate change can plausibly be viewed as a problem of individual moral responsibility, but that involves revising our concepts and it is only part of the story