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Climate change: against despair

McKinnon, C. (2014) Climate change: against despair. Ethics and the Environment, 19 (1). pp. 31-48. ISSN 1085-6633

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To link to this item DOI: 10.2979/ethicsenviro.19.1.31


In the face of accelerating climate change and the parlous state of its politics, despair is tempting. This paper analyses two manifestations of despair about climate change related to (1) the inefficacy of personal emissions reductions, and (2) the inability to make a difference to climate change through personal emissions reductions. On the back of an analysis of despair as a loss of hope, the paper argues that the judgements grounding each form of despair are unsound. The paper concludes with consideration of the instrumental value of hope in effective agency to tackle climate change. Overall, the paper’s assessment of personal despair about climate change as philosophically unjustified provides a fresh perspective on aspects of the debate about how to frame climate change in public debate.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:40495
Publisher:Indiana University Press
Publisher Statement:This article was published as McKinnon, C. (2014) Climate Change:Against Despair. Ethics and the Environment, 19 (1). pp. 31-48. No part of this article may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or distributed, in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photographic, or otherwise, without the prior permission of Indiana University Press. For educational re-use, please contact the Copyright Clearance Center (508-744-3350). For all other permissions, please visit Indiana University Press' permissions page.


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