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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 Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting 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)
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 40% Two In-Class Assessments.
60% Take-Home Final Test
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
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 Joshua Thorpe
Tel: (0131 6)51 3083
Course secretaryMiss Ann-Marie Cowe
Tel: (0131 6)50 3961
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