What is it about?

On the face of it, it can feel like nothing we do as individuals will be enough to tackle climate change. It can feel like we are sacrificing more than we are gaining. Worse, it can feel like other people gain the benefits of our sacrifices – without sacrificing anything themselves. This can lead us to feel something like ‘the prisoner’s dilemma’. The prisoner’s dilemma is a bit like an academic riddle – a story that explains why two people might choose not to work together, even when it is in their best interests to do so. In the context of climate change, we might find ourselves giving up on our attempts to reduce our personal impact on the environment, because we don’t feel others are making a similar effort. Both we and they end up worse off as a result.

Featured Image

Why is it important?

Many people are trying to be a part of the solution to climate change, rather than part of the problem. People are adopting environment-friendly habits like using public transport or walking, instead of taking the car. But there is always a risk that people start to feel their own efforts are not worth it – and question why they are giving up quality of life when others are not doing so. This article is by a philosopher, who brings it back to two different ways of thinking. ‘Consequentialism’ is where we judge our own behavior based on whether it has good or bad outcomes. ‘Non-consequentialism’ says that our behavior itself can be defined as good or bad, regardless of the outcome. KEY TAKEAWAY: For people to continue making individual efforts to tackle climate change, we need to be able to remain optimistic that our efforts will make a difference. We need to see not only that our behavior is good in itself, but that it will have a good outcome.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Why Leave the Car at Home, If That Doesn’t Save the Climate?, Grazer Philosophische Studien, November 2020, Brill,
DOI: 10.1163/18756735-00000126.
You can read the full text:




Be the first to contribute to this page