HFIK03891U FILO, Module 4: Research Subject - Ethics and Political Philosophy: Climate Change - Ethical and Political Questions

Volume 2017/2018

Kandidatuddannelsen i Filosofi 2017-ordning 


Climate Change - Ethical and Political Questions


Climate change may be the biggest challenge facing our generation and the next to come. Climate change involve a range of interrelated ethical and political questions, which are important to address and understand no matter what one otherwise think of climate change. In the course we will focus on 5 key concerns, and invite students to study these concerns in depth:

(1) Climate change itself, and the policies that may be enacted in response to climate change, are the subject of disagreement, both factual and moral disagreement. This leads to general questions about how one should respond rationally to disagreement, when disagreement is reasonable and similar questions. 


(2) Political decisions concerning climate change should, most people seem to think, be informed by science. However, this presuppose a particular view about the way that science should inform democratic decision-making, a view that is contestable. What is the proper role of science in democratic decision-making over contested issues such as climate change.


(3) Decisions regarding climate change will inevitably involve decisions under risk and under uncertainty. Decisions under risk are decisions where decision-makers know or have justified beliefs concerning probabilities of various outcomes of the decision. By contrast, decision under uncertainty, are decisions where we know that decisions have good or bad outcomes, but where nothing is known about the probabilities. How should we as a society make decisions under risk or uncertainty?


(4) Climate change affect people all over the world, but do so in asymmetrical ways. In the industrialised world we may be said to have contributed most to global climate change, and yet many of the severe harms will affect people living in the developing world, which is also giving rise to huge streams of migration. This raise the question about cosmopolitanism, migration and questions of moral responsibility towards individuals who are not one’s nationals.


(5) What we do now to prevent or alleviate climate change will not benefit us, but later generations. So, a crucial question in climate change concerns our moral responsibilities to future generations.


Readings: the syllabus will consist of core texts in ethics, political philosophy and (relevant parts of) epistemology addressing the main concerns. The five core questions will be addressed in the beginning of the course, and the students will then work in depth on an essay on one of the challenges.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 148,75
  • Total
  • 204,75
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Criteria for exam assesment