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  3. Sustainability and Environmental Ethics

Sustainability and Environmental Ethics (PHIL90029)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2018
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codePHIL90029
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject will introduce you to the challenging philosophical issues raised by climate change. We will cover some of the following questions: do our individual GHG emissions do harm? If they do not, do we have any reason to restrain our emissions, and does it make a difference if others are restraining theirs? Are we responsible together for our generation's emissions? In what condition must we leave the world for future generations? What 'green virtues' might there be? Is climate change a structural injustice? If so, are ordinary people complicit in that structural injustice? Does climate change have differential impacts on women and people of colour, and if so, what implications does that have for climate responsibilities? How should the burden of reducing global emissions be shared among states? Is 'discounting the future' ethically permissible? What is the relative importance of action against climate change compared against other morally important goals? In this subject you'll learn both how to defend and criticize arguments relating to climate ethics and environmental activism, and how to articulate what actions might be required of individuals, companies, and states to mitigate climate change.

Intended learning outcomes

Students who complete this subject will:

  • Understand philosophical treatments of our moral obligations to preserve the environment
  • Understand important conceptual distinctions between different ways in which the environment has value
  • Appreciate the difficulties associated with weighing environmental obligations against competing obligations and permissions;
  • Understand the moral significance of the difference between individual and collective action

Last updated: 20 October 2018