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A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change (Environmental Ethics and Science Policy)


A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change (Environmental Ethics and Science Policy) Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Climate change is arguably the great problem confronting humanity, but we have done little to head off this looming catastrophe. In The Perfect Moral Storm, philosopher Stephen Gardiner illuminates our dangerous inaction by placing the environmental crisis in an entirely new light, considering it as an ethical failure. Gardiner clarifies the moral situation, identifying the temptations (or "storms") that make us vulnerable to a certain kind of corruption. First, the world's most affluent nations are tempted to pass on the cost of climate change to the poorer and weaker citizens of the world. Second, the present generation is tempted to pass the problem on to future generations. Third, our poor grasp of science, international justice, and the human relationship to nature helps to facilitate inaction. As a result, we are engaging in willful self-deception when the lives of future generations, the world's poor, and even the basic fabric of life on the planet is at stake. We should wake up to this profound ethical failure, Gardiner concludes, and demand more of our institutions, our leaders and ourselves.

"This is a radical book, both in the sense that it faces extremes and in the sense that it goes to the roots." --Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"The book's strength lies in Gardiner's success at understanding and clarifying the types of moral issues that climate change raises, which is an important first step toward solutions." --Science Magazine

"Gardiner has expertly explored some very instinctual and vitally important considerations which cannot realistically be ignored. --Required reading." --Green Prophet

"Gardiner makes a strong case for highlighting and insisting on the ethical dimensions of the climate problem, and his warnings about buck-passing and the dangerous appeal of moral corruptions hit home." --Times Higher Education

"Stephen Gardiner takes to a new level our understanding of the moral dimensions of climate change. A Perfect Moral Storm argues convincingly that climate change is the greatest moral challenge our species has ever faced - and that the problem goes even deeper than we think." --Peter Singer, Princeton University

About the Author

Stephen M. Gardiner is Professor of Philosophy and Ben Rabinowitz Endowed Professor of Human Dimensions of the Environment at the University of Washington, Seattle. He is the coordinating co-editor of Climate Ethics: Essential Readings (Oxford, 2010), and the editor of Virtue Ethics: Old and New (Cornell, 2005). He is currently co-editing the Oxford Handbook on Environmental Ethics with Allen Thompson.

Table of Contents




Introduction: A Global Environmental Tragedy

I. Some Assumptions

II. Introducing the Perfect Storm Metaphor

III. Climate Change

IV. The Wider Relevance of the Model

V. Outline of the Book

Part A: Overview

Chapter 1: A Perfect Moral Storm

I. Why Ethics?

II. The Global Storm

III. The Intergenerational Storm

IV. The Theoretical Storm

V. The Problem of Moral Corruption

Chapter 2: A Consumption Tragedy

I. What is the Point of Game Theory?

II. Motivating the Models

III. A Green Energy Revolution?

IV. Consumption and Happiness

Part B: The Global Storm

Chapter 3: Somebody Else's Problem

I. Past Climate Policy

II. Somebody Else's Burden

III. Against Optimism

IV. Conclusion

Chapter 4: In the Shadow of a Common Tragedy

I. Climate Prisoners?

II. An Evolving Tragedy

III. Beyond Pessimism

IV. Lingering Tragedy

V. Climate Policy in the Shadows

VI. Conclusion

Part C: The Intergenerational Storm

Chapter 5: The Tyranny of the Contemporary

I. Problems with 'Generations'

II. Intergenerational Buck-Passing

III. Intergenerational Buck-Passing vs. The Prisoners' Dilemma

IV. The Features of the Pure Intergenerational Problem

V. Applications and Complications

VI. Mitigating Factors

VII. The Non-Identity Problem: A Quick Aside

VIII. Conclusion

Chapter 6: An Intergenerational Arms Race?

I. Abrupt Climate Change

II. Three Causes of Political Inertia

III. Against Undermining

IV. Conclusion

Part D: The Theoretical Storm

Chapter 7: A Global Test for Political Institutions and Theories

I. The Global Test

II. Scenarios

III. A Conjecture

IV. Theoretical Vices

V. An Illustration: Utilitarianism

VI. Understanding the Complaint

VII. Conclusion

Chapter 8: Cost-Benefit Paralysis

I. Cost-Benefit Analysis in Normal Contexts

II. CBA for Climate Change

III. The Presumption Against Discounting

IV. The Basic Economics of the Discount Rate

V. Discounting the Rich?

VI. Declining Discount Rates

VII. Two Objections to "Not Discounting"

VIII. The "Devil's in the Details" Argument

IX. Conclusions

Part E: Moral Corruption

Chapter 9: Jane Austen vs. Climate Economics

I. Corruption

II. The Dubious Dashwoods: Initial Parallels

III. The Opening Assault on the Status of the Moral Claim

IV. The Assault on Content

V. Indirect Attacks

VI. The Moral of the Story

Chapter 10: Geoengineering in an Atmosphere of Evil

I. An Idea that is Changing the World

II. The Problem of Political Inertia Revisited

III. Two Preliminary Arguments: Cost and "Research First"?

IV. Arming the Future

V. Arm the Present?

VI. Evolving Shadows

VII. Underestimating 'Evil'

VIII. An Atmosphere of Evil?

IX. "But... Should We Do It?"

Part F: What Now?

Conclusion: The Immediate Future

Postscript: Some Initial Ethics of the Transition

I. Introduction

II. The Ethics of Skepticism

III. Past Emissions

IV. Future Emissions

V. Responsibility

VI. Ideal Theory

VII. Conclusion


Appendix 1: The Population Tragedy

I. Hardin's Analysis

II. Population as a Tragedy of the Commons

III. Total Environmental Impact

IV. Conclusion

Appendix 2: Epistemic Corruption and Scientific Uncertainty in

Michael Crichton's State of Fear

I. What the Scientists Know

II. Certainty, Guesswork and the Missing Middle

III. Conclusion

Product Details

Gardiner, Stephen M.
Oxford University Press, USA
Ethics & Moral Philosophy
Philosophy | Ethics & Moral Philosophy | Environmental Ethics
Philosophy | Ethics
Environmental Ethics and Science Policy Series
Publication Date:
6.1 x 9.1 x 1.1 in 1.6 lb

Related Subjects

Humanities » Philosophy » Ethics
Humanities » Philosophy » General
Religion » Comparative Religion » General
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » General
Textbooks » General

A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change (Environmental Ethics and Science Policy) New Trade Paper
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Product details 518 pages Oxford University Press, USA - English 9780199985142 Reviews:
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