Robin Attfield: Changing the Ethical Climate on Climate Change

Author: Dower, Nigel

Source: Creation, Environment and Ethics, Issue data not provided , pp. 13-32(20)

Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing in association with GSE Research

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In this paper I examine Robin Attfield's defence of the idea of an equal entitlement to the atmospheric commons, his rejection of two historical approaches (Kyoto 1990 levels basis and aggregate emissions), and his neutrality between the Contract and Convergence approach supplemented with Millennium Development Goals commitment and the Greenhouse Development Rights approach. In the discussion I distinguish between the diversity of moral theories that support his principle, suggesting a widening of these, and the plurality of working principles that may be needed, again suggesting that the range may need to be broadened. Using another article on mediated responsibilities, I argue that the main emphasis on what states ought to do needs to be supplemented with a robust account of what individuals—in both the North and in the South—ought to be doing, prior to and independent of what laws, taxes, markets or social mores require—both as morally required in itself and as a necessary condition for states effectively doing what needs to be done.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • Creation, Environment and Ethics
    Creation, Environment and Ethics aims to contribute to a critical understanding of ethics, evolution and creation, and to provide a pluralistic response to some of the most pressing issues facing the global environment today. Following the example of Professor Robin Attfield, this volume aims to reflect the diverse responses with which theological, ethical and evolutionary discourses have contributed to the broad scope of environmental philosophy and also to ongoing debates about creation and evolution. Critiques of the work of Attfield are provided by prominent philosophers, and Attfield provides a clear and thorough response to each of these critiques in turn. Some of the contributions also offer more pragmatic approaches to environmental issues such as climate change, development and sustainability.
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