Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Disagreement and Responses to Climate Change


Author Info

  • Graham Long
Registered author(s):


    The potential harms associated with global climate change demand an urgent response. But at the same time, the nature and extent of both the problem and our proper response to it are continually contested, within the academic community and wider society. What should be the ethical import of this disagreement? In this paper I set out John Rawls' theory of reasonable disagreement as a way of analysing such contestation. On Rawls' account, reasonable disagreement is founded in diversity rather than straightforward error. I argue that many aspects of the scientific and ethical debate on climate change can be usefully viewed from within such a perspective. This raises, I suggest, serious problems for deciding what the human response to global warming must be. Lastly, I survey two responses which might be thought to cope with such pervasive disagreement. Neither, however, is clearly effective. In my conclusion I suggest that reasonable disagreement might be tackled best in a model of deliberative democracy. Such a model, however, does not generate easy answers to the problems of climate change.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL:
    Download Restriction: downloads of articles require payment or registration of paid subscription

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by White Horse Press in its journal Environmental Values.

    Volume (Year): 20 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 4 (November)
    Pages: 503-525

    as in new window
    Handle: RePEc:env:journl:ev20:ev2024

    Contact details of provider:
    Web page:

    Related research

    Keywords: Climate change; reasonable disagreement; political liberalism; justice; environmental ethics;

    Find related papers by JEL classification:


    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
    as in new window
    1. Richard S.J. Tol, 2006. "Why Worry About Climate Change? A Research Agenda," Working Papers FNU-116, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Sep 2006.
    2. Hulme,Mike, 2009. "Why We Disagree About Climate Change," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521898690.
    3. Andrew Dobson, 2006. "Thick Cosmopolitanism," Political Studies, Political Studies Association, vol. 54, pages 165-184, 03.
    4. Oluf Langhelle, 2000. "Sustainable Development and Social Justice: Expanding the Rawlsian Framework of Global Justice," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 9(3), pages 295-323, August.
    5. Derek Bell, 2002. "How can Political Liberals be Environmentalists?," Political Studies, Political Studies Association, vol. 50(4), pages 703-724, 09.
    6. Finn Arler, 2001. "Global Partnership, Climate Change and Complex Equality," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 10(3), pages 301-329, August.
    7. Hulme,Mike, 2009. "Why We Disagree About Climate Change," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521727327.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)



    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


    Access and download statistics


    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:env:journl:ev20:ev2024. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Andrew Johnson).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.