This chapter identified six strands of economic realist argument against climate ethics (pure policy, scientific imperialism, feasibility, self-interest, institutional optimism, welfarism). It argued that it is far from clear how these strands are to be interpreted or integrated, and many versions implicitly rely on ethics. In my view, this imposes a substantial burden of proof on economic realists to clarify their position, especially in a perfect moral storm, where the risk of moral corruption is high. In the next chapter, I turn to the final strand of hostility to ethics, the rejection of justice.


  • 1. Statement attributed to US President George H.W. Bush, at the Rio Earth Summit, 1992.
  • 2. Eric A. Posner and David A. Weisbach, Climate Change Justice (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010), 189.
  • 3. For example, Helen Longino, Science as Social Knowledge (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990).
  • 4. Carlo C. Jaeger and Julia Jaeger, “Three Views of Two Degrees,” Regional Environmental Change 11, supp. 1 (2011): 15-26, doi:10.1007/s10113-010-0190-9.
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. These concerns do not show that 2 degrees is a bad standard all things considered, especially as a focal point. Whether it is requires further argument that takes ethical values into account.
  • 7. David Weisbach, “Gambling on the Climate,” review of Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty, and Economics for a Warming World, by William Nordhaus, New Rambler Review (2015), economics/ gambling-on-the-climate
  • 8. Cf. Sen’s famous example of the Indian state of Kerala.
  • 9. Stephen M. Gardiner, “Geoengineering and Moral Schizophrenia,” in Climate Change Geoengineering. eds. William Burns and Andrew Strauss (New York: Cambridge University Press), 11-38.
  • 10. Posner and Weisbach, Climate Change Justice, 6.
  • 11. Ibid., 7.
  • 12. Eric A. Posner and David A. Weisbach, “International Paretia- nism: A Defense,” Chicago Journal of International Law 13, no. 2 (2013): 355.
  • 13. Posner and Weisbach, Climate Change Justice, 96. They are also dismissive for other reasons: e.g., “while distributing the surplus in favor of poor countries satisfies International Paretianism and hence cannot be ruled out on feasibility grounds, this approach deserves skepticism. It may lead to perverse incentives and not serve justice in a rational and effective way.” Ibid.
  • 14. Eric A. Posner and David A. Weisbach, “International Paretianism,” 350.
  • 15. Posner and Weisbach agree that a maximization strategy leaves “little room” for fairness, but nevertheless argue that a treaty would enhance welfare relative to the status quo (see “Parietanism,” 355). Interestingly, they treat maximization as an objection to IP rather than an interpretation of it, though their definition of IP does not rule it out. (See also chapter 4.)
  • 16. Posner and Weisbach, Climate Change Justice, 179.
  • 17. Eric A. Posner and David A. Weisbach, “International Paretianism,” 355.
  • 18. Posner and Weisbach, Climate Change Justice.
  • 19. Ibid., 357.
  • 20. Ibid., 179.
  • 21. Ibid., 72.
  • 22. Ibid., 179.
  • 23. Eric A. Posner and David A. Weisbach, “International Paretianism,” 357.
  • 24. Posner and Weisbach, Climate Change Justice, 179.
  • 25. A more promising avenue might invoke a distinction between internal and external reasons (see Bernard Williams, “Internal and External Reasons,” in Moral Luck:Phiosophical Papers, 1973-1980, by Bernard Williams [New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981], 101-113). However, I see little evidence for this in the Chicago lawyers.
  • 26. This holds for nations, as well as individuals. Sometimes countries want what is bad for them (e.g., the British public’s desire for appeasement in the run-up to WWII).
  • 27. For instance, although the national interest may be overridden by other normative concerns, such as rights or justice, it has some ethical status—e.g., a treaty that is in every state’s interest is, other things being equal, better than one that is in no one’s interest.
  • 28. Posner and Weisbach, Climate Change Justice, 6.
  • 29. Eric A. Posner and David A. Weisbach, “International Paretia- nism: A Defense.” Chicago Journal of International Law 13 (2013): 349 and 352, emphasis added.
  • 30. This section draws on Stephen M. Gardiner, “The Pure Intergenerational Problem,” The Monist 86, no. 3 2003): 481500, and Stephen M. Gardiner, A Perfect Moral Storm (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).
  • 31. Appeals to “quasi-moral” considerations such as personal attachment are ubiquitous in climate circles among theorists of all stripes—see Michel Bourban, “Climate Change, Human Rights and the Problem of Motivation,” De Ethica 1, no. 1 (2014): 46; Katia Vladimirova, “The Pure Intergenerational Problem and the UNESCO Decade of Education for Sustainable Development,” Ethics in Progress 5, no. 1(2014): 71; and J. Baird Callicott, Thinking Like a Planet (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), xx. They are also important in wider discussions of future generations—for example David Heyd, “A Value or an Obligation: Rawls on

Justice to Future Generations,” in Intergenerational Justice, eds. Axel Gosseries and Lukas Meyer (Oxford University Press, 2009); Jane English, “Justice Between Generations,” Philosophical Studies 31, no. 2 (1977): 91-104; Gardiner, “The Pure Intergenerational Problem,” The Monist 86, no. 3 (2003): 481-500; Stephen M. Gardiner, “A Contract on Future Generations?” in Intergenerational Justice, eds. Axel Gosseries and Lukas Meyer (Oxford University Press, 2009).

  • 32. Nicholas Stern, The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), viii.
  • 33. Stephen M. Gardiner, “Are We the Scum of the Earth?,” in Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change, eds. A. Thompson and J. Bendik-Keymer (Boston: MIT Press, 2012), 241-260.
  • 34. Posner and Weisbach, Climate Change Justice, 171.
  • 35. Ibid., 6.
  • 36. Ibid., 5.
  • 37. Eric A. Posner and Cass R Sunstein, “Pay China to Cut Emissions,” The Financial Times, August 5, 2007, http:// cms/s/0/e67a8166-436d-11dc-a065- 0000779fd2ac.html#axzz39YR7J6pj.
  • 38. Posner and Weisbach, Climate Change Justice, 174.
  • 39. A third challenge involves rejecting impartiality. For instance, many nationalists favor the interests of their own country above (and perhaps to the exclusion of) others. This emerges in both International Paretianism and the frequent refrain in international discourse that nations will do nothing that is not in their own economic interests.
  • 40. John Broome, Climate Matters: Ethics in a Warming World (New York: Norton, 2012).
  • 41. Mark Sagoff, The Economy of the Earth (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988).
  • 42. John Broome, Counting the Cost of Global Warming (Cambridge, UK: White Horse, 1992), 19.
  • 43. Ibid., 25.
  • 44. William Nordhaus, A Question of Balance: Weighing the Options on Global Warming Policies (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009), 61.
  • 45. Posner and Weisbach, Climate Change Justice, 167.
  • 46. Martin Weitzman, “Gamma Discounting,” Academic Economic Review 91, no. 1 (2001): 260-261.
  • 47. Jesper Gunderman, “Discourse in the Greenhouse,” in Sceptical Questions and Sustainable Answers, eds. Christian Ege and Jeanne Lind (Copenhagen, Denmark: Danish Ecological Council, 2002), 139-164.
  • 48. William Nordhaus, “A Review of the ‘Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change,’” Journal of Economic Literature 45, no. 3 (2007): 689, ble/27646843.
  • 49. Gardiner, A Perfect Moral Storm, chap. 8.
  • 50. The most obvious defense of a positive SDR (r) is that it accounts for growth (g). This is often central to rhetorical defenses of discounting (e.g., Nordhaus). However, the dispute within climate economics (where, for example, Stern and Nordhaus have similar numbers for growth) is largely about other components of the SDR, such as pure time preference (5) and consumption elasticity (r|), where the issues are ethical. See Gardiner, Perfect Storm, 271ff.
< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >