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

Front Cover
OUP Oxford, Mar 28, 2013 - Philosophy - 258 pages
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? Although climate change does untold harm to our fellow humans and to the non-human world, no one causes it on their own and it is not the result of intentionally collective action. In the face of the current failure of institutions to confront 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. It also argues that collective action is 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 victims directly. The argument is not that we should not be cutting our own emissionsthis can be a vital part of bringing about collective action or alleviating harmbut that such `green lifestyle choices cannot straightforwardly be defended as duties in their own right, and should not take priority over trying to bring about collective change.
 

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Contents

1 Introduction
1
CLIMATE CHANGE AND US Collective selfinterest collective inaction and collective harm
25
PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES Duties to whom?
83
CLIMATE CHANGE AND ME What I should do when we fail to act
113
CLIMATE CHANGE AND MORAL BAGGAGE Collective failure individual costs and marring choices
167
Conclusion
197
Key claims and definitions
203
Glossary of philosophical terms
207
Notes
211
Bibliography
235
Index
251
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About the author (2013)


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 former British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Edinburgh.

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