Is It All a Matter of Selfishness? Towards the Formulation of Moral Blame for Anti- Environmental Behavior
The moral evaluation of actions that disregard climate change, in individual as well as public ethics, is complex. A clear moral judgment itself is difficult to reach in both contexts, as we are far from paradigm moral cases where specific people provoke harm to easily identifiable others. However, for people to seriously engage in climate change mitigation, it has to be clear why it is wrong not to do so. There is therefore a need to frame moral responsibility for anti-environmen-tal behavior using language and concepts that are understandable to a broad public. This paper will argue that the concept of selfishness, properly construed, is the most appropriate tool for describing and morally evaluating human behavior that disregards climate change. A specific consequentialist definition of selfishness will be provided to this purpose. Some objections to framing the environmental decision in this way will be raised in public as well as individual ethics. In the public sphere, moral deliberations are complicated by the conflict between the rights of the present generation and those of future ones. In individual ethics, the inconsequentiality of individual emissions calls into question the very existence of a moral imperative to act pro-envi-ronmentally. The paper will thus investigate the grounds on which we can hold accountable pol-icy makers who refuse to take action on climate change, focusing on the concept of future dis-counting. With regard to the individual dimension, a proposal will be advanced on the basis of a non-superfluous causal contribution to collective-impact cases. In both contexts, the paper will eventually argue that anti-environmental actions can be defined as selfish according to the defini-tion provided.
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Francesca Pongiglione, "Is It All a Matter of Selfishness? Towards the Formulation of Moral Blame for Anti- Environmental Behavior" in: "Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics (2020) XXII/1", EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, Trieste, 2020, pp. 547-562
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