Nudge Nudge

Just back from an interesting two-day conference in Lancaster called Climate Change and Philosophy at the Tipping Point.  Here’s the brief:

Anthropogenic global warming is certainly occurring. Over the coming decades, one of the key issues that will face humanity is how to deal with it. This conference asks: Is it now too late to stop runaway climate change? Or are we still in with a chance? Either way, can philosophy help?

Here’s my talk.  I suppose I took the question, can philosophy help, at least a little seriously.  I don’t think philosophy can save the planet, but I suspect that how we think about the world, what we value, has to have a role.  And what’s philosophy if not slow motion thinking about what matters to us?  In the paper I consider current efforts on the part of governments to steer people into action with marketing tactics and so called ‘nudge theory’.

I compare that with the force of moral arguments for action on climate change.  My point isn’t that moral philosophy can save us.  But I do think that there’s something about the practice of morality, maybe just the fact of it, that gives me a little hope.


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