Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 1129–1148 | Cite as

Climate Change as a Three-Part Ethical Problem: A Response to Jamieson and Gardiner

  • Ewan KingstonEmail author
Original Paper


Dale Jamieson has claimed that conventional human-directed ethical concepts are an inadequate means for accurately understanding our duty to respond to climate change. Furthermore, he suggests that a responsibility to respect nature can instead provide the appropriate framework with which to understand such a duty. Stephen Gardiner has responded by claiming that climate change is a clear case of ethical responsibility, but the failure of institutions to respond to it creates a (not unprecedented) political problem. In assessing the debate between Gardiner and Jamieson, I develop an analysis which shows a three-part structure to the problem of climate change, in which the problem Gardiner identifies is only one of three sub-problems of climate change. This analysis highlights difficulties with Jamieson’s argument that the duty of respect for nature is necessary for a full understanding of climate ethics, and suggests how a human-directed approach based on the three-part analysis can avoid Jamieson’s charge of inadequacy.


Climate change Responsibility Jamieson Revision Nature Gardiner 



I would like to thank Ramon Das, the audience at the Australasian Association of Philosophy New Zealand Conference 2012 for their comments on an early version of this paper, and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

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