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Bystanding and Climate Change

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Most normative advice to individuals about what they should do to help prevent climate change focuses on reductions in personal emissions. This is consistent with an accountancy model of morality, with perpetrators held responsible for the harms they individually cause. An alternative focus receiving less popular and philosophical attention, but with greater potential to achieve substantial mitigation outcomes, is citizen activism for systemic reforms. Rather than perpetration (consisting of negligible contributions to climate change) priority moral concern can be directed to bystanding (as political passivity facilitating preventable and potentially catastrophic harms). To more effectively guide action, reformist ethics need to be informed by psychosociological research on motivation and societal transformation.
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Keywords: bystanding; citizen activism; climate change; mitigation; morality

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-11-01

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 a Journal Impact Factor (2016) of 1.279.
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