The Harvard Review of Philosophy

Volume 29, 2022

Philosophy and the Environment

Marion HourdequinOrcid-ID
Pages 69-88

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.