September 2012
Ethics & the Environment;Fall2012, Vol. 17 Issue 2, p97
Academic Journal
This article offers an account of the way in which climate change is harmful. It argues that the complex nature of climate change makes it challenging to attribute specific harmful outcomes to climate change. It turns out that the future people who will be harmfully affected by climate change will owe their existence to the very actions that led to the climatic changes that impact them. In light of this, this article offers an interpretation of climate-affecting activities as imposing harmful conditions on future people or as de dicto harming future generations (expanding on distinctions made by Joel Feinberg and Casper Hare respectively). Acts or policies that contribute to climate change are not harmful in the standard way, but such actions impose threats of harmful conditions upon future people. This account gives us a way of talking about how climate change is harmful, though it does not directly answer the challenge of intergenerational ethics.


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