Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 1129–1148

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

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11948-013-9483-y

Cite this article as:
Kingston, E. Sci Eng Ethics (2014) 20: 1129. doi:10.1007/s11948-013-9483-y


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 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

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