PP3EECJ-Environmental Ethics: Climate Justice

Module Provider: Philosophy
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr James Andow

Email: j.andow@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
Climate change is probably the most important issue facing the world’s population! And it raises important ethical and philosophical questions. These questions include general issues in environmental ethics including what kind of value should be attributed to the natural environment, both living and non-living. But these questions also include new and pressing questions not traditionally covered in environmental ethics. How large sacrifices can be demanded of current generations in order to protect the interests of future generations? Should combatting climate change be prioritised over dealing with the problems faced by current generations? Would we need to change human nature in order to effectively combat climate change? If so, should we? These are huge questions and present important challenges to many traditional approaches in moral philosophy. In this module, we will explore these questions and others. More importantly still, students will have the chance to do some real applied philosophy – bringing the philosophical debate to bear upon news stories that emerge as the module proceeds, and upon the pressing decisions faced by world leaders, industries, and all of us in our everyday lives.

To introduce students to the moral and philosophical issues and puzzles relating to climate change and environmental ethics. Students will explore the issues, form views, defend views, and bring the philosophical debate to bear upon applied issues.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module students will have knowledge and understanding of various philosophical perspectives on climate change and environmental ethics. They will understand and be able to evaluate arguments for and against relevant positions. They will be capable of developing their own positions and arguments in this area. They will be able to articulate views on implications for decision makers and individuals, and be able to defend those views.

Additional outcomes:
Students will be able to apply knowledge and understanding gained in previous modules, including, for example, their knowledge about ethics, philosophy of science, aesthetics and epistemology. Students will develop their ability to articulate the relevance and applicability of philosophical theories and approaches to ‘real world’ issues.

Outline content:
We will look at some of, but not all, the following issues:
•The distinction between instrumental and intrinsic value
•The distinction between anthropocentric and biocentric perspectives
•How does climate change affect beauty in nature? Is this morally relevant?
•How does climate change affect non-human animals? Is this morally relevant?
•Is climate change a human rights issue?
•Do we have moral duties towards future generations?
•Who should pay for mitigation measures? And, why?
•What are the ethical implications of geoengineering as a response to climate change?
•Can curbs on population growth be justified in response to overpopulation?
•How can the psychology of ethical decision making inform solutions to climate change?
•What principles of justice underpinned negotiations at the Paris conference?
•Climate change and gender
•Do we need to change human nature in order to effectively combat climate change? Should we?

Example readings:
•Palmer, Clare. (1997) Environmental Ethics. Calif: Osford
•Gardiner, Stephen. M. (2004). Ethics and Global Climate Change. Ethics, 114(3)
•Hourdequin, Marion. (2010). Climate, collective action and individual ethical obligations. Environmental Values, 19(4)
•Lawford-Smith, Holly. (2014). Benefiting from Failures to Address Climate Change. JAP, 31(4)
•Rottman, Joshua; Kelemen, Deborah & Young, Liane (2015). Hindering Harm and Preserving Purity: How Can Moral Psychology Save the Planet? Phil. Compass 10(2)
•Carter, Alan. (2010). Biodiversity and All That Jazz. PPR, 80(1)

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
This module will be taught by means of lectures and seminars both of which will incorporate discussion and some class exercises.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Guided independent study 170
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 60
Written assignment including essay 30
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Other information on summative assessment:
Two essays of 2000-2500 words, worth 15% each, and an oral presentation worth 10%.
All coursework should be submitted electronically via Blackboard and in hard copy to the Philosophy office.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    One two-hour examination worth 60%, in which you must answer two questions from a choice of six.

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Written examination only
    Re-examination in August/September

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 9 January 2017

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