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PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, CLIMATE SCIENCE (oxfordre.com/climatescience). (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2020. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 21 September 2020

Summary and Keywords

The expected climate change is and will be fraught with conflicts at private, societal, and global levels. Because of the temporal scope of the developments, future generations as well will be affected by its consequences. Therefore, the debate on how to cope with climate change and its consequences necessarily includes pivotal ethical questions. Philosophical ethics critically reviews suggestions and arguments given in the debate and develops justified solutions. It therefore analyzes conflict constellations, reconstructs the conditions of and options for their resolution, and defines the limits of justifiability. Even though individual behavior lies in the focus of ethical consideration, the specific conditions for acting make organized collective action indispensable for achieving relevant effects. Because nobody can be obligated to actions that he or she cannot perform at all, or at least not successfully, all on one’s own (ultra posse nemo obligatur), organized and institutionalized action lie in the focus of ethical consideration. States especially, with their organizational and regulative power, are indispensable to manage social conflicts, to overcome social dilemmas, and to create suitable conditions for effective measures. Because there is no privileged principle of justice that guides the distribution of burdens and benefits in international cooperation, the procedural fairness of international negotiation is of special significance.

Keywords: ethics of climate change, conflict, morals, social dilemma, future generations

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