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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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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 03 December 2021

Knowledge, Beliefs, and Responsibility

Knowledge, Beliefs, and Responsibility

(p.181) 6 Knowledge, Beliefs, and Responsibility
Atmospheric Justice

Steve Vanderheiden (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines three primary issues raised by some of the conditions that are often assumed to be necessary for attributions of responsibility: first, that persons are largely ignorant of the effects of those acts which contribute to climate change and so cannot intend those effects, complicating the assessment of moral responsibility for them; second, there remains some uncertainty concerning the scientific basis of those predicted effects, further complicating attributions of responsibility for consequences about which persons may be ignorant; and third, the evident deception behind at least some widely disseminated climate skepticism further complicates the attribution of responsibility for ongoing emissions. It argues that unreasonable ignorance, in all three cases, cannot exonerate agents from culpability. Finally, it presents a defensible policy strategy for issues (like climate change) that are plagued by problems of uncertainty, endorsing the precautionary principle as well as means of “managing” uncertainty.

Keywords:   scientific uncertainty, ignorance, culpability, deception, precautionary principle

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