About this topic
Summary Climate change threatens to create serious risks, ranging from economic risks to increased risk of death and disease to the complete annihilation of small island states. The field of climate ethics (also known as "climate justice") includes questions about how global society should respond to the creation of such risks and who, exactly, should take responsibility for which parts of that response. Major issues include: How aggressively should society reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions? How should the burden of achieving those reductions be distributed across and within nations? What role should adaptation play in responding to climate change? Should high emitters pay damages to affected parties? What responsibilities, if any, does climate change impose on individuals? Because climate change is unfolding on a global scale over long periods of time, and because it involves complex issues of politics, science, economics, and technology, answering these questions requires drawing on moral and political philosophy, philosophy of science and epistemology, philosophy of economics, and philosophy of technology, along with a range of other disciplines.
Key works The seminal review of climate ethics is still Gardiner 2004. For collections of key papers on various aspects of climate ethics, see Gardiner et al 2010, which compiles important papers from the first two decades of the field; Arnold 2011, which includes new papers on important issues in climate ethics; and Shue 2014, which collects major papers from one of the most important voices in climate ethics. Important monographs in climate ethics include Gardiner 2011, in which Gardiner delves more deeply into the structure of the moral problems raised by climate change; Broome 2012 and Moellendorf 2014, in which Broome and Moellendorf articulate their respective answers to key questions in climate ethics; and Vanderheiden 2008, in which Vanderheiden addresses issues of climate justice from the perspective of political theory. On the question of individual responsibility for climate change, see Sinnott-Armstrong 2005 (reprinted in Gardiner et al 2010); Hiller 2011, a reply to Sinnott-Armstrong; and for a different approach, Jamieson 2007 (also reprinted in Gardiner et al 2010).
Introductions Chapter 2 of Singer 2002 includes a highly accessible introduction to some key moral issues raised by climate change, suitable for beginning undergraduates. More advanced undergraduates might start with Hayward 2012. Graduate students and professionals looking for a concise survey of climate ethics should consider  Moellendorf 2015. Those looking for more detail, including relevant scientific and economic background, will find it in Gardiner 2004Broome 2012 provides an accessible book-length overview many key issues in climate ethics, along with a primer on climate science and climate economics. For an overview of the literature on climate change and individual responsibilities, see Fragnière 2016.
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  1. Great Expectations: Challenges to Implementing Climate Policies in Latin America and the Caribbean.Pablo Cristóbal Jiménez Lobeira - manuscript
    The Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region is a distinct geographic, economic and cultural area with a place in the climate change landscape. LAC has suffered the impacts of climate change at a level disproportionate to the amount of emissions it produces. Awareness of this experience, in addition to factors such as the region’s large young population, increasing middle class, vast natural resources and considerable economic growth potential provide reasons to hope LAC can implement significant climate change policies to (...)
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  2. Self Deception and Happiness.Talya D. Osseily - manuscript
    The argument in this essay will be divided into two parts: utilitarian and virtue ethics, where each party will agree or disagree with the idea that self-deception leads to happiness, taking climate change and meat production as examples to support their claims.
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  3. Precautionary Paralysis.J. E. H. Simon - manuscript
    A brief examination of the self-negating quality of the precautionary principle within the context of environmental ethics, and its consequent failure, as an ethical guide, to justify large-scale regulation of atmospheric cabon dioxide emissions.
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  4. A Pin and a Balloon: Anthropic Fragility Increases Chances of Runaway Global Warming.Alexey Turchin - manuscript
    Humanity may underestimate the rate of natural global catastrophes because of the survival bias (“anthropic shadow”). But the resulting reduction of the Earth’s future habitability duration is not very large in most plausible cases (1-2 orders of magnitude) and thus it looks like we still have at least millions of years. However, anthropic shadow implies anthropic fragility: we are more likely to live in a world where a sterilizing catastrophe is long overdue and could be triggered by unexpectedly small human (...)
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  5. Is Geoengineering the ‘Lesser Evil’?Stephen Gardiner - manuscript
    Environmental Research Web, April 18, 2007.
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  6. The Ecology of Fear and Climate Change: A Pragmatist Point of View.Jerome Ballet, Damien Bazin & Emmanuel Petit - forthcoming - Environmental Values.
    The ecology of fear has become a common rhetoric in efforts to support climate mitigation. The thesis of the collapse is an extreme version, asserting the inevitable collapse of the world. Fear, then, becomes the ultimate emotion for spurring action. In this article, drawing on the work of the pragmatist John Dewey, we show that fear is an ambiguous emotion. Dewey stressed the quality of an emotion. Following his reasoning, this article draws a distinction between intense and moderate fear. Intense (...)
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  7. The Relationship Between International Political Community and Civil Society Concerning Environment Protection and the Struggle Against Climate Change.Valeria Barbi & Marco Borraccetti - forthcoming - Governare la Paura. Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies.
    The paper’s aim is to retrace the history of climate change through its definition and the process of negotiation aroused from the creation of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC). After a brief description of this institution, the basic principles beneath the whole system of environment protection and the struggle against climate change will be presented. The intention is to demonstrate how, despite the undeniable advancements of the latest decades, the international legislative framework, even supported by the (...)
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  8. Beyond the Ramsey Model for Climate Change Assessments.S. Baum - forthcoming - Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics.
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  9. On Individual and Shared Obligations: In Defense of the Activist’s Perspective.Gunnar Björnsson - forthcoming - In Mark Budolfson, Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), Philosophy and Climate Change. Oxford University Press.
    We naturally attribute obligations to groups, and take such obligations to have consequences for the obligations of group members. The threat posed by anthropogenic climate change provides an urgent case. It seems that we, together, have an obligation to prevent climate catastrophe, and that we, as individuals, have an obligation to contribute. However, understood strictly, attributions of obligations to groups might seem illegitimate. On the one hand, the groups in question—the people alive today, say—are rarely fully-fledged moral agents, making it (...)
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  10. Land as a Global Commons?Megan Blomfield - forthcoming - Journal of Applied Philosophy.
    Land is becoming increasingly scarce relative to the demands of the global economy; a problem significantly exacerbated by climate change. In response, some have suggested that land should be conceptualised as a global commons. This framing might seem like an appealing way to promote sustainable and equitable land use. However, it is a poor fit for the worldʼs land because global commons are generally understood as resources located beyond state borders. I argue that land can be seen to fit the (...)
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  11. Expropriation of the Expropriators.Jacob Blumenfeld - forthcoming - Philosophy and Social Criticism:1-17.
    The ‘expropriation of the expropriators’ is a delicious turn of phrase, one that Marx even compares to Hegel’s infamous ‘negation of the negation’. But what does it mean, and is it still relevant today? Before I analyse the content of Marx’s expression, I briefly consider contemporary legal understandings of expropriation, as well as some examples of it. In the remainder of the essay, I spell out different kinds of expropriation in Marx and focus on an ambiguity at the core of (...)
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  12. Global Warming, Hybrid Technology, and Carbon Emissions.Ian P. Bork, Jonathan Garfinkel & Bruce Lusignan - forthcoming - Ethics.
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  13. The Social Cost of Carbon, Humility, and Overlapping Consensus on Climate Policy.Mark Budolfson - forthcoming - In Jonathan H. Adler (ed.), Climate Liberalism: Perspectives on Liberty, Property, and Pollution, Palgrave.
    At first glance, it may seem that climate policy based on estimates of the social cost of carbon (SCC) presupposes a set of controversial assumptions, especially about what detailed knowledge regulators have about the impacts of climate change, and what the proper role of government and policy is in responding to those impacts. However, I explain why the SCC-based approach need not actually have these problematic presuppositions as well as why SCC estimates may provide the best guide to climate policy (...)
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  14. Geoengineering and Climate Change.W. C. G. Burns & J. Blackstock (eds.) - forthcoming - Cambridge University Press.
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  15. Global justice, natural resources, and climate change.Larry Alan Busk - forthcoming - Contemporary Political Theory:1-4.
  16. 'Distributive Justice and Climate Change'.Simon Caney - forthcoming - In Serena Olsaretti (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Distributive Justice. Oxford University Press.
    This paper discusses two distinct questions of distributive justice raised by climate change. Stated very roughly, one question concerns how much protection is owed to the potential victims of climate change (the Just Target Question), and the second concerns how the burdens (and benefits) involved in preventing dangerous climate change should be distributed (the Just Burden Question). In Section II, I focus on the first of these questions, the Just Target Question. The rest of the paper examines the second question, (...)
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  17. The Role of Philosophers in Climate Change.Eugene Chislenko - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association:1-19.
    Some conceptions of the role of philosophers in climate change focus mainly on theoretical progress in philosophy, or on philosophers as individual citizens. Against these views, I defend a Skill View: philosophers should use our characteristic skills as philosophers to combat climate change by integrating it into our teaching, research, service, and community engagement. A focus on theoretical progress, citizenship, expertise, virtue, ability, social role, or power, rather than on skill, can allow for some of these contributions. But the Skill (...)
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  18. Beyond Ideal Theory: Foundations for a Critical Rawlsian Theory of Climate Justice.Paul Clements & Paul Formosa - forthcoming - New Political Science:1-20.
    Rawls’s contractualist approach to justice is well known for its adoption of ideal theory. This approach starts by setting out the political goal or ideal and leaves it to non-ideal or partial compliance theory to map out how to get there. However, Rawls’s use of ideal theory has been criticized by Sen from the right and by Mouffe from the left. We critically address these concerns in the context of developing a Rawlsian approach to climate justice. While the importance of (...)
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  19. Consistent Desires and Climate Change.Daniel Coren - forthcoming - Analytic Philosophy.
    Philosophers have described the human perspective on climate change as a perfect moral storm. I take a new angle on that storm: I argue that our relevant desires feature a particularly problematic case of seemingly consistent but genuinely inconsistent desires. We have, first, non-indexical desires such as a desire to (make the sacrifices necessary to) stop polluting our environment at some point. We have, second, indexical desires such as a desire not to (make the sacrifices necessary to) stop polluting our (...)
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  20. The AI gambit: leveraging artificial intelligence to combat climate change—opportunities, challenges, and recommendations.Josh Cowls, Andreas Tsamados, Mariarosaria Taddeo & Luciano Floridi - forthcoming - AI and Society:1-25.
    In this article, we analyse the role that artificial intelligence could play, and is playing, to combat global climate change. We identify two crucial opportunities that AI offers in this domain: it can help improve and expand current understanding of climate change, and it can contribute to combatting the climate crisis effectively. However, the development of AI also raises two sets of problems when considering climate change: the possible exacerbation of social and ethical challenges already associated with AI, and the (...)
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  21. Climate Change and Business Ethics.Boudewijn de Bruin - forthcoming - Journal of Business Ethics.
    This article sketches ways in which business ethics should contribute to addressing the climate emergency. I consider some ways in which normative contributions to the debate on climate change and global warming have been defended, and how international thinking about environmental issues has moved from consequentialist to justice- and rights-based thinking. A recent case that came before the Hague District Court between a Dutch branch of Friends of the Earth, Milieudefensie, and Royal Dutch Shell (Milieudefensie v. Royal Dutch Shell), serves (...)
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  22. Reflexive Law and Climate Change: The EU Sustainable Finance Action Plan.Boudewijn de Bruin - forthcoming - In Joakim Sandberg & Lisa Warenski (eds.), The Philosophy of Money and Finance. Oxford:
    This Chapter studies legislative initiatives around sustainable finance deriving from the Action Plan: Financing Sustainable Growth (also called ‘Sustainable Finance Action Plan’, ‘Action Plan’ henceforth), published by the European Commission (‘Commission’) in 2018 (Communication 2018/97). I evaluate various instruments proposed in the Action Plan, using a reflexive law approach coupled with insights from business ethics and epistemology (De Bruin, 2013, 2015). I point to the challenges such an approach encounters, and offer suggestions how to address them. Reflexive law approaches to (...)
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  23. Offsetting Harm.Michael Deigan - forthcoming - In Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Volume 12.
    It is typically wrong to act in a way that foreseeably makes some impending harm worse. Sometimes it is permissible to do so, however, if one also offsets the harm increasing action by doing something that decreases the badness of the same harm by at least as much. This chapter argues that the standard deontological constraint against doing harm is not compatible with the permissibility of harm increases that have been offset. Offsetting neither prevents one's other actions from doing harm (...)
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  24. Let's Talk About the Weather: Decentering Democratic Debate About Climate Change.Tom D. Dillehay - forthcoming - Hypatia.
  25. Climate Change and Displacement: Towards a Pluralist Approach.Jamie Draper - forthcoming - European Journal of Political Theory:147488512210934.
    This paper sets out a research agenda for a political theory of climate displacement, by critically examining one prominent proposal—the idea of a normative status for ‘climate refugees’—and by proposing an alternative. Drawing on empirical work on climate displacement, I show that the concept of the climate refugee obscures the complexity and heterogeneity of climate displacement. I argue that, because of this complexity and heterogeneity, approaches to climate displacement that put the concept of the climate refugee at their centre will (...)
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  26. Labor Migration and Climate Change Adaptation.Jamie Draper - forthcoming - American Political Science Review.
    Social scientific evidence suggests that labor migration can increase resilience to climate change. For that reason, some have recently advocated using labor migration policy as a tool for climate adaptation. This paper engages with the normative question of whether, and under what conditions, states may permissibly use labor migration policy as a tool for climate adaptation. I argue that states may use labor migration policy as a tool for climate adaptation and may even have a duty to do so, subject (...)
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  27. The Fifth Planet.Loren Eiseley - forthcoming - Techne.
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  28. 21st Century Climate Change in the Middle East.Jason P. Evans - forthcoming - Climatic Change.
    This study examined the performance and future predictions for the Middle East produced by 18 global climate models participating in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report. Under the Special Report on Emission Scenarios A2 emissions scenario the models predict an overall temperature increase of ~1.4 K by mid-century, increasing to almost 4 K by late-century for the Middle East. In terms of precipitation the southernmost portion of the domain experiences a small increase in precipitation due to the (...)
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  29. Climate Change Shocks and Socially Responsible Investments.Franco Fiordelisi, Giuseppe Galloppo & Viktoriia Paimanova - forthcoming - Business Ethics, the Environment and Responsibility.
    Business Ethics, the Environment &Responsibility, EarlyView.
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  30. Anticipatory Moral Failure: The Case of Climate Change‐Driven Displacement.Kyle Fruh - forthcoming - Journal of Social Philosophy.
    Journal of Social Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  31. Anticipatory Moral Failure: The Case of Climate Change‐Driven Displacement.Kyle Fruh - forthcoming - Wiley: Journal of Social Philosophy.
    Journal of Social Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  32. Airborne Transport of Aerosols Into the South Atlantic Ocean: Assessment of Sources, Horizontal Fluxes, Iron Fertilizing Potential and Impact on Climate.Diego Gaiero - forthcoming - Laguna.
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  33. Climate Change, Intergenerational Ethics and the Problem of Moral Corruption.Stephen M. Gardiner - forthcoming - Environmental Ethics.
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  34. The Meaning of Climate Change: An Interview with Dipesh Chakrabarty.Travis Holloway & Dipesh Chakrabarty - forthcoming - Philosophy Today.
    A wide-ranging interview with Dipesh Chakrabarty, Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Chicago and author of The Climate of History in a Planetary Age and Provincializing Europe. Dipesh Chakrabarty is one of the leading thinkers on climate change in the humanities. He is responsible for introducing concepts like the "Anthropocene," "geological force," and "species history" into history, philosophy, and literary theory.
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  35. Climate Change, Uncertainty and Policy.Jeroen Hopster - forthcoming - Springer.
    While the foundations of climate science and ethics are well established, fine-grained climate predictions, as well as policy-decisions, are beset with uncertainties. This chapter maps climate uncertainties and classifies them as to their ground, extent and location. A typology of uncertainty is presented, centered along the axes of scientific and moral uncertainty. This typology is illustrated with paradigmatic examples of uncertainty in climate science, climate ethics and climate economics. Subsequently, the chapter discusses the IPCC’s preferred way of representing uncertainties and (...)
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  36. Lake Level Responses to Semi-Arid Climate and Their Social Impacts in Turkey.Nizamettin Kazancı - forthcoming - Laguna.
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  37. The Social Cost of Carbon From Theory to Trump.J. Paul Kelleher - forthcoming - In Ravi Kanbur & Henry Shue (eds.), Climate Justice: Integrating Economics and Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
    The social cost of carbon (SCC) is a central concept in climate change economics. This chapter explains the SCC and investigates it philosophically. As is widely acknowledged, any SCC calculation requires the analyst to make choices about the infamous topic of discount rates. But to understand the nature and role of discounting, one must understand how that concept—and indeed the SCC concept itself—is yoked to the concept of a value function, whose job is to take ways the world could be (...)
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  38. Environment, Ethics and Public Health: The Climate Change Dilemma.A. Kessel, C. Stephens & A. Dawson - forthcoming - Public Health Ethics: Key Concepts and Issues in Policy and Practice:154--173.
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  39. Ethics of Climate Change Essay Contest.P. Kuhn - forthcoming - Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics.
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  40. How Should We Respond to Climate Change? Virtue Ethics and Aggregation Problems.Dominic Lenzi - forthcoming - Journal of Social Philosophy.
    Journal of Social Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  41. Climate Ethics for Climate Action.Andrew Light - forthcoming - Environmental Ethics: What Really Matters.
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  42. New Solar System Force, Decay of Gravity, and Expansion of the Solar System.Charles William Bill Lucas Jr & Joseph J. Smulsky - forthcoming - Foundations of Science.
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  43. Climate–Fire–Vegetation Interactions During the Late Holocene in Las Yungas Upper Montane Forest, Lagunas de Yala. Northwestern Argentina.Liliana Concepción Lupo - forthcoming - Laguna.
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  44. Climate Change and Health: Bioethical Insights Into Values and Policy.Cheryl Macpherson (ed.) - forthcoming - Springer.
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  45. Holocene Climate Change and Human Settlement on the Semiarid Coast of Chile (32ºS).Antonio Maldonado - forthcoming - Laguna.
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  46. Argumenty a klimatické zmeny (Arguments and Climate Changes).Vladimir Marko - forthcoming - Bratislava: Univerzita Komenského.
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  47. Must a Just Distribution of Emissions Shares Respect Territorial Claims to Terrestrial Sink Capacity?Alex Mathie - forthcoming - Res Publica:1-27.
    A central task of climate justice is to agree upon a just distribution of the right to emit greenhouse gases. According to the equal per capita shares view, the right to emit should be divided equally between every inhabitant of Earth, since to emit is to use up the resource of atmospheric absorptive capacity, and this is a resource to which no one person has any stronger claim than any other. The fact that a significant proportion of the Earth’s ability (...)
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  48. Harnessing Moral Psychology to Reduce Meat Consumption.Joshua May & Victor Kumar - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association.
    How can we make moral progress on factory farming? Part of the answer lies in human moral psychology. Meat consumption remains high, despite increased awareness of its negative impact on animal welfare. Weakness of will is part of the explanation: acceptance of the ethical arguments doesn’t always motivate changes in dietary habits. However, we draw on scientific evidence to argue that many consumers aren’t fully convinced that they morally ought to reduce their meat consumption. We then identify two key psychological (...)
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  49. Between Neutrality and Action: State Speech and Climate Change.Kevin McGravey & Matthew Hodgetts - forthcoming - Ethics, Policy and Environment.
    2019 saw a wave of youth-led climate strikes that demanded states ‘listen to the science’. Some of these states are committed to protecting free speech through neutrality on climate change. That co...
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  50. Modelling Society on a Family and Its Implications for Inequalities.Thaddeus Metz - forthcoming - In Ingrid Robeyns (ed.), Economic and Ecological Inequalities: Pluralist Philosophical Perspectives. Oxford University Press.
    I investigate which inequalities are permissible on the supposition that an ideal society would be modelled on an ideal family. One idea salient in the African and East Asian philosophical traditions is that the right sort of socio-political interaction would be similar to the intuitive ways that family members ought to relate to each other. I answer the question of what principles implicit in healthy familial relationships entail for economic and ecological inequalities, and contend that the implications are plausible.
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