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Bystanding and Climate Change

  • Carol Booth
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    Most normative advice to individuals about what they should do to help prevent climate change focuses on reductions in personal emissions. This is consistent with an accountancy model of morality, with perpetrators held responsible for the harms they individually cause. An alternative focus receiving less popular and philosophical attention, but with greater potential to achieve substantial mitigation outcomes, is citizen activism for systemic reforms. Rather than perpetration (consisting of negligible contributions to climate change) priority moral concern can be directed to bystanding (as political passivity facilitating preventable and potentially catastrophic harms). To more effectively guide action, reformist ethics need to be informed by psychosociological research on motivation and societal transformation.

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

    Volume (Year): 21 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 4 (November)
    Pages: 397-416

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    Handle: RePEc:env:journl:ev21:ev2118
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    1. Baylor L. Johnson, 2003. "Ethical Obligations in a Tragedy of the Commons," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 12(3), pages 271-287, August.
    2. Jamieson, Dale, 2007. "When Utilitarians Should Be Virtue Theorists," Utilitas, Cambridge University Press, vol. 19(02), pages 160-183, June.
    3. Catherine Butler, 2010. "Morality and Climate Change: Is Leaving your TV on Standby a Risky Behaviour?," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 19(2), pages 169-192, May.
    4. Elizabeth Shove, 2010. "Beyond the ABC: climate change policy and theories of social change," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 42(6), pages 1273-1285, June.
    5. Marion Hourdequin, 2011. "Climate Change and Individual Responsibility: A Reply to Johnson," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 20(2), pages 157-162, May.
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