Climate Change as a Three-Part Ethical Problem: A Response to Jamieson and Gardiner

Science and Engineering Ethics 20 (4):1129-1148 (2014)
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Abstract
Dale Jamieson has claimed that conventional human-directed ethical concepts are an inadequate means for accurately understanding our duty to respond to climate change. Furthermore, he suggests that a responsibility to respect nature can instead provide the appropriate framework with which to understand such a duty. Stephen Gardiner has responded by claiming that climate change is a clear case of ethical responsibility, but the failure of institutions to respond to it creates a (not unprecedented) political problem. In assessing the debate between Gardiner and Jamieson, I develop an analysis which shows a three-part structure to the problem of climate change, in which the problem Gardiner identifies is only one of three sub-problems of climate change. This analysis highlights difficulties with Jamieson’s argument that the duty of respect for nature is necessary for a full understanding of climate ethics, and suggests how a human-directed approach based on the three-part analysis can avoid Jamieson’s charge of inadequacy
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