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Individuals, society and the world: a defence of collective environmental duties

Cripps, E.B.; (2008) Individuals, society and the world: a defence of collective environmental duties. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis defends a collective duty to establish a global-level institution to tackle climate change. This is motivated through collective responsibility for environmental harm, and collective self-interest. Building on Larry May, it is contended that a number of individuals can be collectively responsible, in a weak but morally significant sense, for the (even unintended) predictable result of the combination of their individual acts. It is argued that this gives rise to a collective duty to remedy or end the harm, and correlative individual duties. The dominant intentionalist model of collectivities is rejected. Arguing against Margaret Gilbert, it is claimed that a collectivity is constituted by a set of individuals mutually dependent through some common goal, purpose or all things-considered interest, whether or not they acknowledge it themselves. A capabilities model of human flourishing is defended, according to which it is not in someone's all-things- considered interest to be deprived of a central functional capability, on something like Martha Nussbaum's list. To undermine a person's capability to enjoy a central functioning is to do morally significant harm. It is argued that, especially for larger collectivities, it is often "better", in terms of achieving the common goals, purposes or interests, that certain decisions be made collectively, rather than left to the aggregation of individual acts. This appeals to: inefficiency, ignorance, the individual-collective rationality distinction, partial conflict, and rational altruist arguments. Collective (and correlative individual) duties to establish global environmental decision-making institutions are defended: prudentially, because most humans constitute a collectivity by virtue of the threat of climate change to fundamental interests, and morally, because most are collectively responsibility for harm. Finally, institutional change is called for, so that certain (primarily environmental) decisions are made by a global decision-making body and handed down as restrictions on states and individuals. A number of objections are addressed.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Individuals, society and the world: a defence of collective environmental duties
Language:English
Additional information:Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Philosophy

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