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Epistemology and Climate Change

Coady, D ORCID: 0000-0001-7564-1687 2019 , 'Epistemology and Climate Change', in M Fricker and PJ Graham and D Henderson and NJLL Pedersen (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Social Epistemology , Routlege, New York, pp. 466-473.

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Referring to public and academic debate about climate change, Philip Kitcher has said that it is “an embarrassment that philosophers have not contributed more to this necessary conversation” (2010: 6). This is not entirely fair. There are philosophers who have made important contributions to this conversation, the vast majority of these contributions, however, come from a single area of philosophy: ethics. This is unfortunate since public and academic debate about climate change is certainly not restricted in this way. Much of it (perhaps most of it) is about epistemic issues, rather than ethical issues. In other words, it is about what we should believe and what we can know, rather than about what we should do or how we should live. Epistemic questions are not only prominent in the public debate about climate change, they are also, in a clear sense, logically prior to the ethical questions. As Rousseau observed, “what one ought to do depends largely on what one ought to believe” (1782: Third Walk). For these reasons, it is clear that epistemologists qua epistemologists (and not merely in their capacity as global citizens) are obliged to contribute to the debate about climate change.

Item Type: Book Section
Authors/Creators:Coady, D
Keywords: climate change, epistemology
Publisher: Routlege
DOI / ID Number: 10.4324/9781315717937
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Copyright 2020 Taylor & Francis

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