There is overwhelming scientific evidence that human activities are changing the climate system, which, in turn, is fundamentally transforming the world we live in. Images of melting ice caps, hurricanes, fires, droughts and floods have become a constant feature of the everyday news. These, in turn, affect the quality of life worldwide by way of increasing food and water shortages, forcing people out of their homes and exacerbating the existing inequalities. None of this is limited to the present generations, but it will in all its likelihood greatly affect the quality of life of future generations too.
In this course, we will approach these issues from a normative point of view. That is, we will attempt to decipher what does climate justice demand and who should secure it. We will do so by addressing some of the most fundamental ethical questions concerning climate change. Who has the responsibility to address climate change and on what grounds? Given the global scope of the problem, are collectives the only ones that bear duties or individuals should do their share too? Since climate change impacts the interests that many deem important, such as interests in life, health and nutrition, what kind of protection people are entitled to? What counts as adequate and fair compensation for those who lose their homes due to climate change and who should provide it? How much weight should be given to the interests of future generations? Should the population growth be limited, and if yes, how? Can we substitute the loss of nature with the provision of some other “good” or the nature is not substitutable at all? If not, why not? We will address questions such as these from various theoretical perspectives and we will also look at their practical implications.
By the end of the course, students will be able to:
Understand the ethical challenges raised by climate change
Understand key theoretical debates about rights and responsibilities concerning climate change
Evaluate ongoing global issues in terms of these theoretical accounts
Reconstruct and critically evaluate normative arguments in oral and written form.
Mode of instruction
The course will be taught in seminar form, combining short lectures and class discussions in plenary and small groups.
Class participation, a response paper and final essay. Details will be included in the syllabus.
The course syllabus including the reading list will be made available on Brightspace before the start of the course.
Mondays 13.15 and Thursdays 09.15 (online).