David E. Storey (Boston College)


From 16:30
to 18:00
From 16:30
to 18:00

Course Description
Climate change is arguably the defining issue of our time, and it raises many moral questions: How should we act in the face of scientific uncertainty? What values should guide global, national, and state climate policies? What responsibilities do individuals, organizations, and nations have toward future generations, nonhuman species, and our planet? To help you explore and try to answer these questions, this course provides an introduction to environmental ethics and the moral challenges posed by climate change. The goal is to help you grasp and grapple with the moral gravity and the conceptual and empirical complexity of the problem. To do so, we will approach the climate problem not only through the lens of moral philosophy, but from several perspectives, including climate science, economics, and even science fiction. You will learn about: the scientific basis for the notion that the climate is changing and that this is mostly due to human activity; the roots of the political controversy over climate change; the history and status of national and international climate policy; the energy sources and systems that have created the problem; economic policy tools devised to respond to the problem; and, finally, how psychology is showing how people’s worldviews and values shape their beliefs and actions about climate. Climate change is the interdisciplinary issue par excellence, but ethical questions underlie all of these disciplines.

Learning Outcomes: "A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving." ~ Lao Tzu

● Apply knowledge of moral philosophy to the climate problem and appreciate the unique moral challenges posed by climate change
● Gain competence in identifying, analyzing, evaluating, and constructing philosophical arguments
● Learn how to respectfully and constructively disagree in conversations about controversial moral, political, and policy issues
● Foster ethical and existential reflection and integration
● Understand how public policy formation incorporates both scientific data and value judgments
● Acquire an awareness of and reflect on your roles and responsibilities as a member of complex natural and social systems

Learning Obstacles: “What stands in the way becomes the way” ~ Marcus Aurelius
● Fear
● Apathy
● Distraction
● Haste
● ?

● Elizabeth Cripps, What Climate Justice Means and Why We Should Care (London:
Bloomsbury Continuum, 2022)
● Mike Hulme, Why We Disagree About Climate Change (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2009)
● Bruno Latour, Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime (Cambridge: Polity,
● Andreas Malm, How to Blow Up a Pipeline (New York: Verso, 2021)
● Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future (New York: Orbit, 2020)
● Additional readings posted online.

*Readings from this text are noted “(CE)” in the schedule.



● Participation: 15%
● Reading Responses: 15%
● Reflection Papers: 40%
● Presentation: 5%
● Final Paper: 25%




Course Schedule

I. Introduction

2/27: Week 1

A: Robinson, Ministry for the Future, pp. 1-26

B: Daily Nous, “Philosophers on Climate Change” (O); Cripps, What Climate Justice
Means, “Introduction” pp. 9-16 and “Chapter 1: Basic Justice, Incontrovertible Science” pp. 17-47

3/6: Week 2

A: DesJardins, “Ethical Theories and the Environment” (O)

II. Science: History, Foundations, Debate

B: Hulme, Why We Disagree About Climate Change, Chapter 2: “The Discovery of Climate Change” pp. 35-71; Broome, “A Philosopher at the IPCC” (O); “IPCC Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5” (O)

3/13: Week 3

A: Hulme, Why We Disagree About Climate Change, “Chapter 3: The Performance of Science” pp. 72-108; Oreskes, “Values in Science” (O)

III. Political Economy: Capitalism vs. the Climate?

B: Hulme, Why We Disagree About Climate Change, “Chapter 4: The Endowment of
Value” pp. 109-141

3/20: Week 4

A: Ministry for the Future, pp. 129-133; Broome, Climate Matters, “Chapter 6: Goodness” pp. 97-116 (O); Roberts, "Discount Rates: A Boring Thing You Should Know About”

B: Ministry for the Future, pp. 41, 57-61, 73-76, 155-57, 165-6, 171-77, 187-192,
209-219, 237-43, 331-33, 341-45, 365-66; Robinson, “Paying Ourselves to Decarbonize”(O)

3/27: Week 5

A: Piper, “Can We Save the Planet by Shrinking the Economy?”; Boyer, “Why We Have to Give Up On Endless Economic Growth”; Milanovic, “The Illusion of ‘Degrowth’ in a Poor and Unequal World”; Hickel, “Degrowth: A Response to Brando Milanovic”

B: No Class (makeup class on ?)

4/3: Week 6

IV. Political Ecology: From Globalization to Gaia

A: Latour, Down to Earth

V. Worldviews: Psychology, Culture, Religion

B: Hulme, Why We Disagree About Climate Change, Chapter 5: “The Things We
Believe,” pp. 142-177; McIntosh

C: Hulme, Why We Disagree About Climate Change, Chapter 6: “The Things We Fear,” pp. 178-210; Sandin, “Precautionary Principle” (O)


4/17: Week 7

VI. Climate Justice

A: Cripps, What Climate Justice Means, “Chapter 2: The Same Storm, But Not the Same Boat” pp. 49-71; Whyte, Kyle Powys, 2016, “Is it Colonial Déjà Vu? Indigenous Peoples and Climate Injustice” (O)
B: Sengupta, “Calls for Climate Reparations Reach Boiling Point in Glasgow Talks”;
Taiwo, “The Fight for Reparations Cannot Ignore Climate Justice”; Epstein, “The Upside-Down Logic of Climate Reparations”

4/24: Week 8
A: Osaka, “Should You Not Have Kids Because of Climate Change? It’s Complicated”; Hardin, “Tragedy of the Commons” (O); Monbiot, “The Tragedy of Enclosure” (O); Gardiner, “The Population Tragedy” (O)
B: Washington Post, “The World’s Population is 8 billion and Rising. That’s Probably a Good Thing”; Rosling, “Global Population Growth, Box by Box” (TED talk); Cripps, What Climate Justice Means, pp. 104-109; Cafaro, Philip, 2012, “Climate Ethics and Population Policy” (O)

5/1: Week 9

A: Ministry for the Future, 43-4, 359-64, 429-41, 501-2, 519-20; Pendergrass and
Vettese, “Planning an Eco-Socialist Utopia”
; Cripps, What Climate Justice Means, Ch. 3, “Beyond Humans” pp. 73-93

B: Cripps, What Climate Justice Means, Ch. 4, “What Climate Justice Looks Like” pp. 95-127; Caney, “Climate Change and Human Rights” (O); Shue, “Subsistence and Luxury Emission” (O)

5/8: Week 10


A: Ministry for the Future. pp. 21-2, 45-50, 77-8, 85-6, 89-103, 135-7, 160-64, 227-30, 387-91, 545-47; Malm, How to Blow Up a Pipeline, “Preface” pp. 1-3 and “Chapter 1: Learning from Past Struggles” pp. 5-64

B: Malm, How to Blow Up a Pipeline, “Chapter 2: Breaking the Spell” pp. 65-132

5/15: Week 11

VII. Global Climate Policy

A: Cripps, What Climate Justice Means, Ch 5, “The Least Unjust Option” pp. 129-152; Cullenward and Victor, Making Climate Policy Work, “Preface” pp. viii-xv and Chapter 1: A Turn Toward Markets?” pp. 1-30 (O)

B: World Resources Institute, “COP 27: Key Takeaways and What’s Next”; Wirth,
“The Multilateral Climate Regime” (O)

5/22: Week 12

A: Cripps, What Climate Justice Means, Ch 6, “But What Can I Do?” and “Conclusion,” 153-188; Schendler, “Worrying About Your Carbon Footprint is Exactly What Big Oil Wants You To Do”; Guenther, “We Need to Talk About the Carbon Footprints of the Rich” (O)

B: Ministry for the Future, pp. 453-456, 475-80; Malm, How to Blow Up a Pipeline, “Chapter 3: Fighting Despair” pp. 133-161; Amanda Gorman, “Earthrise

Final Exam: World Climate Simulation





Last updated: 17 January, 2023


Isola di San Servolo
30133 Venice,

phone: +39 041 2719511
fax:+39 041 2719510

VAT: 02928970272