Practical Philosophy Seminar: Alice Pinheiro-Walla (University of Bayreuth)

Kant and the Climate Crisis: A Territorial Rights Approach

Kant’s ethical theory is attractive for justifying duties to curb the effects of climate change. The very idea of a categorical imperative test evokes the idea of sustainable maxims of action. However, I argue that applying Kant’s ethical theory to climate change has limitations, since it cannot adequately account for the external enforcement required by climate change policies. In contrast, Kant’s legal philosophy can account for global collective and enforceable duties to mitigate and address the effects of climate change.

I argue that that the territorial rights of states give rise to specific duties of right towards those affected by climate change globally. Because they preclude the global mobility required for climate change adaptation, the global community of states has a duty to provide a satisfactory alternative arrangement. This would involve not only a duty to mitigate climate change, but also a duty to provide assistance to those affected by climate change to adapt to the new global conditions.

I conclude with the suggestion that securing the territorial rights of indigenous peoples and local groups who interact with their land with deep environmental knowledge, genuine emotional attachment and in a sustainable way would be a possible way to do something significant towards environmental preservation in face of international political inaction and provide a model for long term change in the way we understand and interact with land.

Published Feb. 1, 2019 2:32 PM - Last modified May 23, 2019 9:57 AM