Climate Change Inaction and Moral Nihilism

Ethics, Policy and Environment 18 (2):202-214 (2015)
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The effects of anthropogenic climate change may be devastating. Nevertheless, most people do not seem to be seriously concerned. We consume as much as we always did, drive as much as we always did, eat as much meat as we always did. What can we do to overcome this collective apathy? In order to be able to develop effective measures, we must first get clear about the causes of climate change inaction. In this paper I ask whether moral nihilism is a significant cause of climate change inaction. The answer to this question depends mainly on the extent to which being a moral nihilist reduces one's likelihood of taking action against climate change. At first sight, the extent seems to be considerable. I argue, however, that this assumption is false. Only slightly more non-nihilists than nihilists are led to climate-friendly actions by moral considerations. And in absolute terms, morality plays such a minor role in leading people to act that the difference is barely noticeable.
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The Moral Problem.Smith, Michael
Moral Realism: A Defence.Shafer-Landau, Russ

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