Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Debating Climate Ethics

Debating Climate Ethics by Stephen M Gardiner and David A Weisbach, 280 pages Note: This book was read for the Philosophy Book Discussion Group at Carpenter. If you want to read a copy, check with the branch.

In this book each author presents their argument for or against whether ethics should be a part of creating climate change policy. Then, they each present a brief response to the other's argument.

Gardiner argues that ethics must be considered as part of any climate change policy as any climate change policy already has underlying values even if they aren't stated. He admits that there aren't adequate climate ethics theories but that we must work with what we have and develop sufficient climate ethics theories. His proposal is there should be an international organization that is in charge of climate change policy because countries will not think enough in the long term on their own.

Weisbach argues that ethics should play no or a minimal part in climate change policy. He contends that self interest will be sufficient to create good climate change policies. He uses a feasibility argument to show the faults in ethics theories of distributive justice, corrective justice and equality that would be applied to climate change policies.

One thing they both agree on is that greenhouse gas emissions must be curtailed sharply immediately if we have any hope of not causing further harm and mitigating the harm that has already been done.

This was a thought provoking book. Often books will only provide one point of view or a weakened opposite point of view. It was good to read a book that provided opposite viewpoints from advocates of those perspectives.

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