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Causing Global Warming

Gunnemyr, Mattias LU (2019) In Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22(2). p.399-424
Abstract

Do I cause global warming, climate change and their related harms when I go for a leisure drive with my gas-guzzling car? The current verdict seems to be that I do not; the emissions produced by my drive are much too insignificant to make a difference for the occurrence of global warming and its related harms. I argue that our verdict on this issue depends on what we mean by ‘causation’. If we for instance assume a simple counterfactual analysis of causation according to which ‘C causes E’ means ‘if C had not occurred, E would not have occurred’, we must conclude that a single drive does not cause global warming. However, this analysis of causation is well-known for giving counterintuitive results in some important cases. If we instead... (More)

Do I cause global warming, climate change and their related harms when I go for a leisure drive with my gas-guzzling car? The current verdict seems to be that I do not; the emissions produced by my drive are much too insignificant to make a difference for the occurrence of global warming and its related harms. I argue that our verdict on this issue depends on what we mean by ‘causation’. If we for instance assume a simple counterfactual analysis of causation according to which ‘C causes E’ means ‘if C had not occurred, E would not have occurred’, we must conclude that a single drive does not cause global warming. However, this analysis of causation is well-known for giving counterintuitive results in some important cases. If we instead adopt Lewis’s (2000) analysis of causation, it turns out that it is indeterminate whether I cause global warming (etc.) when I go for a single drive. Still, in contexts where we seek to control or understand global warming, there is a pressure to adopt a more fragile view of this event. When we adopt such a view, it turns out that a single drive does cause global warming (etc.). This means that we cannot like Sinnott-Armstrong (2005) and Kingston and Sinnott-Armstrong (2018) reject the idea that I should refrain from going for a leisure drive simply because such a drive does not cause global warming.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Causal influence, Causation, Causing harm, David Lewis, Global warming, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
in
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice
volume
22
issue
2
pages
399 - 424
publisher
Springer
external identifiers
  • scopus:85064241290
ISSN
1386-2820
DOI
10.1007/s10677-019-09990-w
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
d57199c5-8888-4674-bcb1-d0de411a2a30
date added to LUP
2019-05-02 15:05:40
date last changed
2019-09-11 04:15:46
@article{d57199c5-8888-4674-bcb1-d0de411a2a30,
  abstract     = {<p>Do I cause global warming, climate change and their related harms when I go for a leisure drive with my gas-guzzling car? The current verdict seems to be that I do not; the emissions produced by my drive are much too insignificant to make a difference for the occurrence of global warming and its related harms. I argue that our verdict on this issue depends on what we mean by ‘causation’. If we for instance assume a simple counterfactual analysis of causation according to which ‘C causes E’ means ‘if C had not occurred, E would not have occurred’, we must conclude that a single drive does not cause global warming. However, this analysis of causation is well-known for giving counterintuitive results in some important cases. If we instead adopt Lewis’s (2000) analysis of causation, it turns out that it is indeterminate whether I cause global warming (etc.) when I go for a single drive. Still, in contexts where we seek to control or understand global warming, there is a pressure to adopt a more fragile view of this event. When we adopt such a view, it turns out that a single drive does cause global warming (etc.). This means that we cannot like Sinnott-Armstrong (2005) and Kingston and Sinnott-Armstrong (2018) reject the idea that I should refrain from going for a leisure drive simply because such a drive does not cause global warming.</p>},
  author       = {Gunnemyr, Mattias},
  issn         = {1386-2820},
  keyword      = {Causal influence,Causation,Causing harm,David Lewis,Global warming,Walter Sinnott-Armstrong},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {399--424},
  publisher    = {Springer},
  series       = {Ethical Theory and Moral Practice},
  title        = {Causing Global Warming},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10677-019-09990-w},
  volume       = {22},
  year         = {2019},
}