Ethics and ecosystems

A.A. 2023/2024
Crediti massimi
Ore totali
Obiettivi formativi
The aim of this course is to frame a concept of individual moral responsibility towards the environment, with a specific focus on climate change.
First, a recognition on the concept of moral responsibility itself will be conducted, with the objective of identifying some crucial features of individual responsibility in this field (such as - but not restricted to -lack of direct consequentiality and of significant impact of individual action).
The specific issue of climate change will be then introduced, by examining the physical phenomenon itself. Scientific data on climate science will be analyzed, along with projections of possible scenarios arising from the rise of the Earth's temperature.
Some issues will be raised at this point. As taking action on climate change presupposes some minimum knowledge of it, it will be investigated: i) what kind of knowledge is necessary to take significant action; ii) the current availability of easily accessible scientific data; iii) if there is a general duty to gather information on climate change, and in what way can we frame this duty, its extension and its ethical grounds.
Once acknowledged that there is some kind of duty to engage with climate change, different theories on how to frame this duty for the individual will be investigated. Normative ethical theories (deontology, consequentialism, virtue ethics) will be firstly considered as possible grounds for individual responsibility to take action on climate change. Direct duties to cut emissions, as opposed to collective duties to raise awareness and/or promote political action will be eventually analyzed.
Risultati apprendimento attesi
At the end of the course, students will have acquired some basic scientific knowledge of what climate change is, and why is it such a formidable ethical and political challenge.
Students will be able to search for reliable scientific data on climate change, to extrapolate from them the relevant information for promoting individual behavioural change, and to communicate them in a simple and effective way.
In order to allow the development of critical thinking, the students will be assigned a mid-term task. They will be asked to write a short paper in which to express and motivate their personal judgement on some of the normative theories applied to climate duties analysed, identifying advantages and disadvantages of them.
In order to develop communicative skills, two lessons, one at the half and one at the end of course, will be entirely dedicated to classroom discussion lead by the teacher on some crucial and particularly controversial elements of the scientific debate.
The teacher will create a shared folder with relevant papers or bibliographical entries on specific topics, from which to depart for conducting further research autonomously.
Corso singolo

Questo insegnamento può essere seguito come corso singolo.

Programma e organizzazione didattica

Edizione unica

Secondo trimestre

Introductory lectures:
1. Introduction: program, exam, assignments
2. Moral responsibility in joint causation; individual, collective and global responsibility

1st module: climate science
3. Causes of climate change
4. Effects of climate change
5. Effects of climate change: climate migration
6. Science and data of climate change: IPCC and Eurobarometer

2nd module: climate politics
7. Climate agreements: a brief history
8. Climate policies: principles regulating mitigation
9. Problems in policy making: right to develop vs rights of future people
10. Intertemporal justice

3rd module: climate ethics
11. Why is climate change (primarily) an ethical issue?
12. Are standard moral principles able to prescribe individual commitment to climate change mitigation?
13. New virtues and world-vision
14. Individual moral duties towards climate change: the epistemic conditions
15. Motivation for adopting pro-environmental actions

4th module: in-class presentations
16. Presentations
17. Presentations
18. Presentations
19. Guest seminar
20. Conclusions - debate
No specific competence is required to attend this course. Basic knowledge of ethical theories can be helpful.
Metodi didattici
The course will be mostly delivered through lectures. There will be, however, room for debate, and the final classes will be devoted to student presentations.
Materiale di riferimento
Slides and lectures' notes, and papers from the reading list (1 for attending students; 3 for non attending students). Please be aware that you will need the lectures' notes for preparing the exam properly. Each ppt presentation contains some bibliographical references that are not mandatory, but that could help and at times prove necessary for a better comprehension of the topics.
The professor highly recommends attendance, and invites working students to contact her in case they already know they are unable to attend.
Modalità di verifica dell’apprendimento e criteri di valutazione
The exam will be a written test - 3 open questions. 2 of these questions will be based on the lectures and on the course's mandatory bibliography. Such questions will be rather specific, and presuppose a careful preparation.
The third question will concern one of the articles from a reading list that will be provided at the beginning on the course, containing papers addressing a variety of topics connected to the course.
Please note that attending students will be asked to make a paper presentation during the course. As a result, they will choose only one article from the reading list. The third question will be based on that specific reading.
Non-attending students, instead, will have to read three papers from the reading list, and communicate their choices to the instructor. The day of the exam, the instructor will choose on which of the three papers the third question will be based.
The grades go from 0/30 to 30/30 cum laude, being 18/30 the minimum score for considering the test passed. Not answering to one question implies not passing the exam.
The following elements will be evaluated:
- Precision and comprehensiveness of the answer
- Consistency between question and answer
- Correct use of disciplinary terminology.
Lezioni: 40 ore
Docente: Pongiglione Francesca