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Environmental Ethics

Volume 39, Issue 1, Spring 2017

Ryan Darr
Pages 21-38
DOI: 10.5840/enviroethics20179262

Climate Change and Common-Sense Moral Responsibility

The harms that will result from climate change are so spatiotemporally distant from and complexly related to the acts that cause them that the common-sense concept of moral responsibility can seem inadequate. For this reason, Dale Jamieson has raised the possibility that climate change might represent not simply a moral failure but a failure of morality itself. The result could be a climate disaster for which no one is morally responsible. Debates about the adequacy of common-sense morality, however, often rely on an overly simplistic picture of it. A more adequate picture of common-sense morality is needed, which allows for both a more nuanced account of its role in the problem of climate change and a more satisfying account of individual moral responsibility for contributions to climate change.