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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Philosophy

Undergraduate Course: Environmental Ethics (PHIL10147)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines some of the central theoretical and practical ethical questions arising out of the distinctive relation human beings have to the natural environment. The first half of the course will focus on theoretical topics, such as (nonexhaustive list): (i) how we should reason under uncertainty in long timescales, (ii) the nature and appropriate distribution of what's valuable, (iii) Parfit's 'non-identity problem' and 'repugnant conclusion', (iv) externalities, multi-generational prisoner's dilemmas, and tragedies of the commons, etc. The second half of the course will explore a variety of practical topics raised by environmental ethics, such as (nonexhaustive list): (i) carbon offsetting, (ii) direct action, (iii) cap and trade, (iv) geopolitical processes such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, (v) population control, (vi) food issues like genetically engineered crops and vegetarianism, (vii) the discount rates to use in economic models of the costs and benefits of mitigating climate change, etc.
Course description Not entered
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Morality and Value (PHIL08015)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements It is recommended that students have taken Morality and Value (can be waived at the course organiser's discretion)
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 Philosophy courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
- increased understanding of some foundational issues in ethical theory
- familiarity with some of the specific ethical issues raised by humans¿ relationship to nature
- improved ability to defend a philosophically controversial position
- improved critical reading and discussion skills
Reading List
Here is an indicative and incomplete list (to be modified in line with particular topics taught each year):

John Broome, Climate Matters 2012, chs. 3-6 [Economics, Justice & Fairness, Private Morality, Goodness]
Derek Parfit, Reasons and Persons 1984, chs. 16-17 [The Non-Identity Problem, The Repugnant Conclusion]
Gregory Kavka, 'The Paradox of Future Individuals' Philosophy & Public Affairs, vol. 11 (Spring 1982), pp. 93-112
Nicolas Stern, 'Executive Summary of the Stern Review' URL=
William Nordhaus, 'A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change', Journal of Economic Literature, vol. XLV (September 2007), pp. 686-702
Mathew Humphrey, 'Democratic Legitimacy, Public Justification and Environmental Direct Action', Political Studies, vol. 54 (2006) pp. 310-327
Peter Singer, 'One Atmosphere', from his One World: The Ethics of Globalization 2002.
Dale Jamieson, 'Ethics, Public Policy, and Global Warming' Science, Technology, Human Values vol. 17 (1992), pp. 139-153.
Stephen Gardiner, 'A Perfect Moral Storm: Climate Change, Intergenerational Ethics, and the Problem pf Moral Corruption', Environmental Values, vol. 15 (2006), pp. 397-413.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Matthew Chrisman
Tel: (0131 6)50 3648
Course secretaryMiss Samantha Bell
Tel: (0131 6)50 3602
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