As the recent fiery debates about ‘flight shame’ and ‘meat shame’ illustrate, there is no clear and convincing ethical account of who has a duty to do exactly what with respect to climate change.
One major reason for the ethical confusion is that a convincing ethics addressing collective harm problems has yet to be formulated. A collective harm problem involves many people acting in a way that leads to serious harm, but each individual’s contribution is miniscule. Our joint carbon emissions causing climate change is a particularly complex collective harm problem.
The aim of the project is to formulate a new approach to addressing collective harm problems, an ethics of coordination that incorporates both direct individual duties and collective duties, and to apply this approach to climate change. This would have important practical implications. It would not only provide clearer ethical guidance and efficiency in fighting climate change but would also allow us to address collective harm problems more generally.
The project proceeds by answering three questions through philosophical inquiry and economic analysis:
- How can an ethics of coordination be theoretically justified?
- Regarding climate change, what are the duties of an individual to act on her own?
- Regarding climate change, what are the duties of individuals and states to coordinate their actions with others?