Climate Change as a ‘Hard’ Case of Collective Responsibility
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Climate change poses a challenge to moral philosophy. Because of the nature of the harms – brought about collectively, it seems like a case of collective responsibility1. But none of the existing theories of collective responsibility seem capable of delivering plausible verdicts. I argue in my thesis that this is because we should not begin with a theory of collective responsibility, but instead with the theory of right action. In particular, I argue that a form of rule-consequentialism (like Brad Hooker's) can explain the wrongness of the climate change harms and attribute the blame to individuals while still covering the facts about the larger groups to which individuals belong. Thus my theory can improve on existing collective theories while at the same time explaining away their plausibility as accounts of our obligations with regards to climate change.