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PHILOSOPHY 102 (STOLZE) Notes on Stephen Gardiner, “A Perfect Moral Storm”

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Presentation on theme: "PHILOSOPHY 102 (STOLZE) Notes on Stephen Gardiner, “A Perfect Moral Storm”"— Presentation transcript:

1 PHILOSOPHY 102 (STOLZE) Notes on Stephen Gardiner, “A Perfect Moral Storm”

2 Gardiner’s Thesis “The peculiar features of the climate change problem pose substantial obstacles to our ability to make the hard choices necessary to address it. Climate change is a perfect moral storm. One consequence of this is that, even if the difficult ethical questions could be answered, we might still find it difficult to act. For the storm makes us extremely vulnerable to moral corruption” (p. 398).

3 What is a Perfect Storm? A perfect storm = “an event constituted by an unusual convergence of independently harmful factors where this convergence is likely to result in substantial, and possibly catastrophic, negative outcomes” (p. 398).

4 Why does Climate Change give rise to a Perfect Moral Storm? Gardiner argues that “climate change appears to be a perfect moral storm because it involves the convergence of a number of factors that threaten our ability to behave ethically” (p. 398).

5 The Three Climate Storms Global Intergenerational Theoretical

6 The Global Storm Dispersion of Causes and Effects Fragmentation of Agency Institutional Inadequacy

7 The Intergenerational Storm Dispersion of Causes and Effects Fragmentation of Agency Institutional Inadequacy

8 The Theoretical Storm The problem of moral corruption, associated with the following vices:  Distraction  Complacency  Unreasonable Doubt  Selective Attention (Gardiner focuses on this factor)  Delusion  Pandering  False Witness  Hypocrisy

9 George Monbiot on Climate Change Denial “A recent paper by the biologist Janis L Dickinson, published in the journal Ecology and Society, proposes that constant news and discussion about global warming makes it difficult for people to repress thoughts of death, and that they might respond to the terrifying prospect of climate breakdown in ways that strengthen their character armour but diminish our chances of survival. There is already experimental evidence suggesting that some people respond to reminders of death by increasing consumption. Dickinson proposes that growing evidence of climate change might boost this tendency, as well as raising antagonism towards scientists and environmentalists. Our message, after all, presents a lethal threat to the central immortality project of Western society: perpetual economic growth, supported by an ideology of entitlement and exceptionalism. If Dickinson is correct, is it fanciful to suppose that those who are closer to the end of their lives might react more strongly against reminders of death? I haven’t been able to find any experiments testing this proposition, but it is surely worth investigating. And could it be that the rapid growth of climate change denial over the past two years is actually a response to the hardening of scientific evidence? If so, how the hell do we confront it?” (Excerpted from George Monbiot, “Death Denial” [].)

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