Department of Philosophy



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WATSON HALL, ROOM 517 @ 4:00 p.m.

Lukas Meyer (University of Graz)

Title:  “Time Dimensions in the Climate Justice Debate"



Intergenerational justice, namely what currently living people owe to future people and how to interpret the normative significance of what past people did, is of central importance in providing an interpretation of what ought to be done in responding to climate change in the present.  In the climate justice debate the time dimensions past, present, and future are interlinked in interesting ways. The Future Dimension centrally concerns the rights of future people and, in the context of climate change, a basic question is: What level of present emissions can be justified on a global scale? Here the question of intergenerational justice is concerned with the duties of present generations (of both developing and industrialized countries) towards future generations in view of the fact that the present emissions affect the environmental conditions of the future.


The Past Dimension concerns the relevance of past activities for the duties of currently living people: First, how should we take into account historical emissions and their beneficial consequences in distributing emissions among currently living people? This question is concerned with how the mitigation burden (that is, the costs of reducing emissions to the justifiable quota) should be distributed globally. Second, who should pay for the damages that are caused by (historical) emissions esp. assuming that people have not stayed and will not stay within their fair shares? Here we are concerned with how the adaptation burden (that is, the costs of adapting to climate change that was not or will not be avoided or is unavoidable) should be distributed globally.


In the policy arena and in the negotiation process these two issues will (and should) often be linked together. However, analytically they can be separated. And it also makes sense to initially hold the two issues of mitigation and adaptation apart, because distributing emission rights (the mitigation issue) seems to be an issue of distributive justice, while paying for the damage done by emissions (the adaptation issue) at first sight looks more like an issue of compensatory justice even if I will suggest that the latter is mostly an issue of distributive justice as well.


Thirdly, there is the Dimension of the Present or Justice in Transitions: while issues of justice are considered highly important in international climate negotiations we seem not to getting close to such a concerted political strategy globally. Thus, for currently living people and individual actors the question is what they ought to do before a fair, global, legitimate and effective political solution is reached and how they should go about contributing to such a solution?



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Tentative Fall Schedule

The Department of Philosophy is pleased to announce the following (tentative) schedule of talks in the Colloquium Series.  Unless otherwise noted, all talks will be held on Thursday afternoons in Room 517, John Watson Hall, Bader Lane, beginning at 4:00pm. Everyone is welcome. Further details about each talk will be sent out weekly. Talks and question period to be followed by drinks at the University Club


FALL 2015

Sept 24:  Cheryl Misak – University of Toronto (Graham Kennedy Lecture)           

Oct 1:      Babette Babich – Fordham University

Oct 8:      Torin Doppelt – Queen's University

Oct 15:    Boris Hennig – Ryerson University

Oct 22:    Nicole Hassoun – Binghamton University

Oct 29:    Rockney Jacobsen – Wilfrid Laurier University

Nov 5:     Lukas Meyer – University of Graz (Dunning Trust)

Nov 12:   Udo Schuklenk – Queen's University                            

Nov 19:    Kate Manne – Cornell University

Nov 26:    Angela Martin – McGill University