Solar radiation management (SRM), a form of climate engineering, would offset the effects of increased greenhouse gas concentrations by reducing the amount of sunlight absorbed by the Earth. To encourage support for SRM research, advocates argue that SRM may someday be needed to reduce the risks from climate change. This paper examines the implications of two moral constraints—the Doctrine of Doing and Allowing, and the Doctrine of Double Effect—on this argument for SRM and SRM research. The Doctrine of Doing and (...) Allowing, and perhaps the Doctrine of Double Effect, shows that the argument is weaker than it appears. (shrink)
The strongest arguments for the permissibility of geoengineering (also known as climate engineering) rely implicitly on non-ideal theory—roughly, the theory of justice as applied to situations of partial compliance with principles of ideal justice. In an ideally just world, such arguments acknowledge, humanity should not deploy geoengineering; but in our imperfect world, society may need to complement mitigation and adaptation with geoengineering to reduce injustices associated with anthropogenic climate change. We interpret research proponents’ arguments as an application of a particular (...) branch of non-ideal theory known as “clinical theory.” Clinical theory aims to identify politically feasible institutions or policies that would address existing (or impending) injustice without violating certain kinds of moral permissibility constraints. We argue for three implications of clinical theory: First, conditional on falling costs and feasibility, clinical theory provides strong support for some geoengineering techniques that aim to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Second, if some kinds of carbon dioxide removal technologies are supported by clinical theory, then clinical theory further supports using those technologies to enable “overshoot” scenarios in which developing countries exceed the cumulative emissions caps that would apply in ideal circumstances. Third, because of tensions between political feasibility and moral permissibility, clinical theory provides only weak support for geoengineering techniques that aim to manage incoming solar radiation. (shrink)
Over the past decade or so, several commentators have called for mission-driven research programs on solar geoengineering, also known as solar radiation management (SRM) or climate engineering. Building on the largely epistemic reasons offered by earlier commentators, this paper argues that a well-designed mission-driven research program that aims to evaluate solar geoengineering could promote justice and legitimacy, among other valuable ends. Specifically, an international, mission-driven research program that aims to produce knowledge to enable well-informed decision-making about solar geoengineering could (1) (...) provide a more effective way to identify and answer the questions that policymakers would need to answer; and (2) provide a venue for more efficient, effective, just, and legitimate governance of solar geoengineering research; while (3) reducing the tendency for solar geoengineering research to exacerbate international domination. Thus, despite some risks and limitations, a well-designed mission-driven research program offers one way to improve the governance of solar geoengineering research relative to the ‘investigator-driven’ status quo. (shrink)
In this paper, we argue that ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’, which is the view that ideal primary positive conceivability entails primary metaphysical possibility, is self-defeating. To this end, we outline two reductio arguments against ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’. The first reductio shows that, from supposing that ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’ is true, it follows that conceivability both is and is not conclusive evidence for possibility. The second reductio shows that, from supposing that ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’ is true, it follows that it is possible (...) that ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’ is necessarily false, and hence that ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’ is false. We then argue that adopting a weaker position according to which conceivability is merely prima facie evidence for possibility provides limited protection from our criticism of conceivability arguments. (shrink)
One central question of climate justice is how to fairly allocate the global emissions budget. Some commentators hold that the concept of fairness is hopelessly equivocal on this point. Others claim that we need a complete theory of distributive justice to answer the question. This paper argues to the contrary that, given only weak assumptions about fairness, we can show that fairness requires an allocation that is at least as prioritarian as the equal per capita view. Since even the equal (...) per capita view is more prioritarian than is politically feasible, fairness is univocal enough for all practical purposes. (shrink)
Some types of solar radiation management (SRM) research are ethically problematic because they expose persons, animals, and ecosystems to significant risks. In our earlier work, we argued for ethical norms for SRM research based on norms for biomedical research. Biomedical researchers may not conduct research on persons without their consent, but universal consent is impractical for SRM research. We argue that instead of requiring universal consent, ethical norms for SRM research require only political legitimacy in decision-making about global SRM trials. (...) Using Allen Buchanan & Robert Keohane's model of global political legitimacy, we examine several existing global institutions as possible analogues for a politically legitimate SRM decision-making body. (shrink)
"A Workbook for Arguments" builds on Anthony Weston's "Rulebook for Arguments" to provide a complete textbook for a course in critical thinking or informal logic. "Workbook" includes: The entire text of "Rulebook," supplemented with extensive further explanations and exercises. Homework exercises adapted from a wide range of arguments from newspapers, philosophical texts, literature, movies, videos, and other sources. Practical advice to help students succeed when applying the "Rulebook's" rules to the examples in the homework exercises. Suggestions for further practice, outlining (...) activities that students can do by themselves or with classmates to improve their skills. Detailed instructions for in-class activities and take-home assignments designed to engage students. An appendix on mapping arguments, giving students a solid introduction to this vital skill in constructing complex and multi-step arguments and evaluating them. Model answers to odd-numbered problems, including commentaries on the strengths and weaknesses of selected sample answers and further discussion of some of the substantive intellectual, philosophical, or ethical issues they raise. (shrink)
Traditional representations of philosophy have tended to prize the role of reason in the discipline. These accounts focus exclusively on ideas and arguments as animating forces in the field. But anecdotal evidence and more rigorous sociological studies suggest there is more going on in philosophy. In this article, we present two hypotheses about social factors in the field: that social factors influence the development of philosophy, and that status and reputation—and thus social influence—will tend to be awarded to philosophers who (...) offer rationally compelling arguments for their views. In order to test these hypotheses, we need a more comprehensive grasp on the field than traditional representations afford. In particular, we need more substantial data about various social connections between philosophers. This investigation belongs to a naturalized metaphilosophy, an empirical study of the discipline itself, and it offers prospects for a fuller and more reliable understanding of philosophy. (shrink)
Climate engineering (CE), the intentional modification of the climate in order to reduce the effects of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, is sometimes touted as a potential response to climate change. Increasing interest in the topic has led to proposals for empirical tests of hypothesized CE techniques, which raise serious ethical concerns. We propose three ethical guidelines for CE researchers, derived from the ethics literature on research with human and animal subjects, applicable in the event that CE research progresses beyond computer (...) modeling. The Principle of Respect requires that the scientific community secure the global public's consent, voiced through their governmental representatives, before beginning any empirical research. The Principle of Beneficence and Justice requires that researchers strive for a favorable risk–benefit ratio and a fair distribution of risks and anticipated benefits, all while protecting the basic rights of affected individuals. Finally, the Minimization Principle requires that researchers minimize the extent and intensity of each experiment by ensuring that no experiments last longer, cover a greater geographical extent, or have a greater impact on the climate, ecosystem, or human welfare than is necessary to test the specific hypotheses in question. Field experiments that might affect humans or ecosystems in significant ways should not proceed until a full discussion of the ethics of CE research occurs and appropriate institutions for regulating such experiments are established. (shrink)
Many commentators fear that climate engineering research might lead policy-makers to reduce mitigation efforts. Most of the literature on this so-called ‘moral hazard’ problem focuses on the prediction that climate engineering research would reduce mitigation efforts. This paper focuses on a related ethical question: Why would it be a bad thing if climate engineering research obstructed mitigation? If climate engineering promises to be effective enough, it might justify some reduction in mitigation. Climate policy portfolios involving sufficiently large or poorly planned (...) reductions in mitigation, however, could lead to an outcome that would be worse than the portfolio that would be chosen in the absence of further climate engineering research. This paper applies three ethical perspectives to describe the kinds of portfolios that would be worse than that ‘baseline portfolio’. The literature on climate engineering identifies various mechanisms that might cause policy-makers to choose these inferior portfolios, but it is difficult to know in advance whether the existence of these mechanisms means that climate engineering research really would lead to a worse outcome. In the light of that uncertainty, a precautionary approach suggests that researchers should take measures to reduce the risk of mitigation obstruction. Several such measures are suggested. (shrink)
Stephen Gardiner argues that geoengineering does not meet the “canonical technical definition” of a global public good, and that it is misleading to frame geoengineering as a public good. A public good is something that is nonrival and nonexcludable. Contrary to Gardiner’s claims, geoengineering meets both of these criteria. Framing geoengineering as a public good is useful because it allows commentators to draw on the existing economic, philosophical, and social scientific literature on the governance of public goods.
Although many scientists and engineers insist that technologies are value-neutral, philosophers of technology have long argued that they are wrong. In this paper, I introduce a new argument against the claim that technologies are value-neutral. This argument complements and extends, rather than replaces, existing arguments against value-neutrality. I formulate the Value-Neutrality Thesis, roughly, as the claim that a technological innovation can have bad effects, on balance, only if its users have “vicious” or condemnable preferences. After sketching a microeconomic model for (...) explaining or predicting a technology’s impact on individuals’ behavior, I argue that a particular technological innovation can create or exacerbate collective action problems, even in the absence of vicious preferences. Technologies do this by increasing the net utility of refusing to cooperate. I also argue that a particular technological innovation can induce short-sighted behavior because of humans’ tendency to discount future benefits too steeply. I suggest some possible extensions of my microeconomic model of technological impacts. These extensions would enable philosophers of technology to consider agents with mixed motives—i.e., agents who harbor some vicious preferences but also some aversion to acting on them—and to apply the model to questions about the professional responsibilities of engineers, scientists, and other inventors. (shrink)
Disagreements about morally appropriate mitigation policies arise in part from implicit disagreements about the nature and moral significance of needs. One key question is what, if anything, distinguishes “needs” from “mere wants.” One approach, prominent in economics and implemented in existing integrated assessment models of climate change, rejects a hard distinction between needs and wants. An alternative approach, prominent in the philosophical literature on needs, identifies needs with the requirements for autonomous agency, which is the capacity to set and pursue (...) one’s own goals. A second key question is in what sense, if any, the satisfaction of needs should take precedence over the satisfaction of wants. Those who reject the distinction between wants and needs can say only that some desires should be weighted more heavily than others. Those who endorse the distinction can say that, given certain ethical assumptions, it is wrong to frustrate one person’s needs in order to satisfy others’ mere wants. Thus, rejecting the distinction between wants and needs tends to justify less aggressive mitigation policies, in which satisfying the so-called “wants” of present generations compensates for frustrating the so-called “needs” of future generations. Endorsing the distinction between wants and needs, along with certain ethical assumptions, tends to justify more aggressive mitigation policies. Both positions are intellectually defensible; understanding them helps illuminate disagreements over mitigation policy. (shrink)
"A Workbook for Arguments" builds on Anthony Weston’s "A Rulebook for Arguments" to provide a complete textbook for a course in critical thinking or informal logic. The second edition adds: Updated and improved homework exercises—nearly one third are new—to ensure that the examples continue to resonate with students. Increased coverage of scientific reasoning, demonstrating how scientific reasoning dovetails with critical thinking more generally Two new activities in which students analyze arguments in their original form, as provided in brief selections from (...) the original texts. This edition continues to include The entire text of "Rulebook," supplemented with extensive explanations and exercises. Homework exercises adapted from a wide range of arguments in a wide variety of sources. Practical advice to help students succeed. Model answers to odd-numbered problems, including commentaries on the strengths and weaknesses of selected sample answers and further discussion of some of the substantive intellectual, philosophical, or ethical issues they raise. Detailed instructions for in-class activities and take-home assignments. An appendix on mapping arguments, giving students a solid introduction to this vital skill in constructing complex and multi-step arguments and evaluating them. (shrink)
_Giving Reasons_ prepares students to think independently, evaluate information, and reason clearly across disciplines. Accessible to students and effective for instructors, it provides plain-English exercises, helpful appendices, and a variety of online supplements.
A Textbook, with Readings, for Ethics and Contemporary Moral Issues courses -/- * Includes clear and comprehensive discussions by David Morrow of moral reasoning, ethical theory, and contemporary moral issues along with a thorough set of readings in these areas * Readings include both standards of moral theory and classic and contemporary sources in applied ethics from an uncommonly diverse set of authors; nearly one-third of the readings are authored by women *Offers coverage of standard contemporary moral issues along with (...) more cutting-edge topics like race, sex, and climate change *Illustrates aspects of moral reasoning using actual arguments from the applied ethics literature *Explains the use of analogical reasoning, thought experiments, and counterexamples in ethics *Includes dozens of detailed case studies drawn from real events, fiction, and film Incorporates Chinese and African ethics *Provides "guiding questions" to help students understand primary sources, discussion questions for each chapter and reading, and a detailed appendix on writing an ethics paper. (shrink)
Offering students an accessible, in-depth, and highly practical introduction to ethics, this text covers argumentation and moral reasoning, various types of moral arguments, and theoretical issues that commonly arise in introductory ethics courses, including skepticism, subjectivism,relativism, religion, and normative theories. The book combines primary sources in moral theory and applied ethics with explanatory material, case studies, and pedagogical features to help students think critically about moral issues.
One major question in climate justice is whether developed countries’ historical emissions are relevant to distributing the burdens of mitigating climate change. To argue that developed countries should bear a greater share of the burdens of mitigation because of their past emissions is to advocate ‘historical accountability.’ Standard arguments for historical accountability rely on corrective justice. These arguments face important objections. By using the notion of a global emissions budget, however, we can reframe the debate over historical accountability in terms (...) of distributive justice. This paper argues that, given two defensible assumptions, distributive justice requires historical accountability. These assumptions are that the proper claimants on the emissions budgets are societies or states, not individuals, and that we should be allocating the entirety of the original, pre-industrial budget, rather than just the remainder. (shrink)
David Keith's and Clive Hamilton's books both aim to introduce readers to a range of scientific, political, and ethical issues surrounding climate engineering (also known as geoengineering). Each author aims to tilt readers toward a particular stance on climate engineering—against climate engineering in Hamilton’s case, and cautiously for it in Keith’s. Hamilton’s book, Earthmasters, explores more issues in more detail; Keith’s book, The Case for Climate Engineering, gives just enough of a taste to motivate the idea that climate engineering deserves (...) serious consideration. This review summarizes and contrasts the two books. (shrink)
Stephen Gardiner and Augustin Fragnière suggest replacing the Oxford Principles for the governance of climate engineering (CE) with their 10 Tollgate Principles (Gardiner & Fragnière, 2018). Like the Oxford Principles, the Tollgate Principles offer abstract, high-level guidance. Translating either set of principles into actual policies or governance mechanisms therefore requires considerable effort. In this commentary, I offer some suggestions for putting the Tollgate Principles into practice, paying special attention to the notions of ‘ethically defensible forms’ of CE and ‘well-founded ethical (...) norms’. (shrink)