Climate change and complacency

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History and Philosophy


In this paper I engage interdisciplinary conversation on inaction as the dominant response to climate change, and develop an analysis of the specific phenomenon of complacency through a critical-feminist lens. I suggest that Chris Cuomo's discussion of the “insufficiency” problem and Susan Sherwin's call for a “public ethics” jointly point toward particularly promising harm-reduction strategies. I draw upon and extend their work by arguing that extant philosophical accounts of complacency are inadequate to the task of sorting out what it means to be complacent on climate change. I offer a sketch for an alternative account, which I take to be a start in the direction of mapping out a diverse array of “motivational vices” that need to be named, grappled with, and (hopefully) remedied.

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