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The Possibility of a Joint Communique: My Response to Hourdequin

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This article is a response to Marion Hourdequin, 'Climate, Collective Action and Individual Ethical Obligations', Environmental Values 19 (2010): 443-464. As Hourdequin argues, we have an obligation to reduce our individual emissions of greenhouse gases. This obligation is not, however, to reduce to the level that would be sustainable if everyone else did likewise. We are obligated to make limited reductions in the service of our primary obligation to organise and embrace collective schemes to ensure that everyone reduces emissions and that benefits to the environment are proportionate to the sacrifices made. She and I can agree on the existence of an obligation if she recognises that there is a fundamental difference between the obligations we have to avoid individually harmful actions and our obligations in a tragedy of the commons.

Keywords: climate change; collective action; ethics; greenhouse gases; obligations; tragedy of the commons; virtue

Document Type: Discussion


Publication date: May 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has an impact factor (2014) of 1.056.
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