Proceedings of the 13. International Conference of ISSEI (2013)

Thomas Pölzler
University of Graz
The effects of anthropogenic climate change will be devastating. Nevertheless, most people do not seem to be seriously concerned. We consume as much as we always did, drive as much as we always did, eat as much meat as we always did. What can we do to overcome this collective apathy? In order to be able to develop effective measures, we must first get clear about the causes of climate change inaction. In this paper I ask whether moral nihilism (the denial of moral truths) is a significant cause of climate change inaction. The answer to this question depends mainly on the extent to which being a moral nihilist reduces one’s likelihood of taking action against climate change. At first sight, the extent seems to be considerable. I will argue, however, that this assumption is false. Only slightly more non-nihilists than nihilists are led to climate-friendly actions by moral considerations. And in absolute terms, morality plays such a minor role in leading people to act that the difference is barely noticeable.
Keywords moral nihilism  climate ethics  moral motivation  moral non-cognitivism  moral error theory
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Climate Change, Responsibility, and Justice.Dale Jamieson - 2010 - Science and Engineering Ethics 16 (3):431-445.
What Motivates Us to Care for the (Distant) Future?Dieter Birnbacher - 2009 - In Axel Gosseries & Lukas H. Meyer (eds.), Studia Philosophica Wratislaviensia. Oxford University Press. pp. 51-75.

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