Volume 29, 2022
Philosophy and the Environment
Intergenerational Ethics, Moral Ambivalence, and Climate Change
Global climate change raises critical issues of intergenerational ethics. One of these issues involves what Stephen Gardiner calls intergenerational buck-passing (IGBP)—a pattern through which each generation does little to address climate change and instead passes the problem along to the next, progressively amplifying the climate crisis over time. My goal in this paper to explore two key questions: (1) What is at the root of intergenerational buck-passing? and (2) What changes might help to disrupt it? To answer these questions, I argue that we need to understand and address the role of moral ambivalence in reinforcing the status quo and creating friction that impedes climate action. Confronting moral ambivalence may enable more thoughtful and just responses to climate change that support intergenerational solidarity and mutual flourishing.