What is it about?

A ‘wicked problem’ is one that is almost impossible to solve. That might be because it is constantly changing, or because it results from so many different causes. The term is often used in a slightly joky way; people use it when they want to shrug their shoulders and say something will never be solved because it is just too complicated. Describing climate change as a ‘wicked problem’ may make some sense, in that it is a very complex problem for us to solve. But as a term it can be a distraction, partly because the term isn’t universally known and understood. Some people take it literally – ‘wicked’ meaning ‘morally bad’ – and question whether that is the right word to use in the context of climate change.

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Why is it important?

KEY TAKEAWAY: Yes, climate change is partly a moral issue – we need to question whether our own behavior is making things better or worse, and we need to take responsibility for tackling it. But overall it is a technological, economic, and political problem. We need to take climate change seriously, but we shouldn’t take the phrase ‘wicked problem’ too seriously.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Why, Exactly, Is Climate Change a Wicked Problem?, Philosophia Reformata, November 2020, Brill,
DOI: 10.1163/23528230-8502a003.
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