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Atmospheric JusticeA Political Theory of Climate Change$
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Steve Vanderheiden

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195334609

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195334609.001.0001

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Moral Responsibility and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Moral Responsibility and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

(p.143) 5 Moral Responsibility and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Atmospheric Justice

Steve Vanderheiden (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins by introducing the normative principle of responsibility, then surveys several relevant distinctions within the concept of responsibility (causal vs. moral, positive vs. negative) along with some degrees of responsibility (fault, liability, moral blame), and applies these to problems analogous to the climate case. Three distinct problems for attributing responsibility for climate change are examined in the chapter: the first involves what Nagel terms the problem of moral luck; the second concerns the difficulty in establishing causation for harm that results from the aggregate effects of many similar acts; and the third involves the attribution of collective responsibility to nations. The chapter examines the mistakes that lead to these objections, illuminating the proper manner in which persons and nations can be held responsible for climate-related harm and how a climate regime might assign remedial liability on that basis.

Keywords:   principle of responsibility, liability, moral luck, moral responsibility, collective responsibility

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