Friday, August 19, 2011

Ethical foundations of climate engineering

Clive Hamilton, Professor of Public Ethics at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, will speak on "The ethical foundations of climate engineering", at the Australian National University in Canberra, 12:30 PM, 23 August 2011:
Public Lecture

The ethical foundations of climate engineering

In the standard consequentialist view, the question of whether it is ethically justified intentionally to shift the planet to a warmer or cooler climate depends on an assessment of the costs and benefits of the new state compared to the old one. The worldview of climate ethics is built on an unstated (and mostly unrecognized) understanding of the natural world that grew out of the Scientific Revolution, complemented by Enlightenment philosophy’s conception of the human as a self-legislating Kantian moral subject.

This paper argues that the grip of “technological thinking” based on this worldview explains why it has been so difficult for humanity to heed the warnings of climate science and why the idea of using technology to take control of the Earth’s atmosphere is immediately appealing.

Yet recent discoveries by Earth system science itself—-the arrival of the Anthropocene, the prevalence of non-linearities, and the deep complexity of the earth’s processes—-hint at its inborn flaws. The emerging understanding of the Earth highlights the dangers of technological thinking, and suggests a source of moral authority beyond the self-legislating Kantian subject.


Clive Hamilton is the Charles Sturt Professor of Public Ethics at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics in Canberra. For 14 years until early 2008 he was the Executive Director of The Australia Institute, Australia’s foremost progressive think tank. His book "Requiem for a Species: Why we resist the truth about climate change" was published last year. He has recently returned from a visiting position in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Oxford. He is a member of the Royal Society's Solar Radiation Management Governance Initiative.

Speaker/Host: ANU Climate Change Institute Venue: Lecture Theatre 1, Hedley Bull Centre, Cnr Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU Date: Tuesday, 23 August 2011 Time: 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM Website: Enquiries: Roz Smith on 6125 6599, Colette Gilmour on 6125 0633

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