“Climate Ethics” – OZSW and 4TU.Ethics graduate course

The Dutch Research School of Philosophy (OZSW) and the 4TU Center for Ethics and Technology invite PhD students in philosophy to register for the “Climate Ethics” course, which will be held from the 30th of January to the 2nd of February 2017, at Utrecht University.


Organizing university

Utrecht University


30 January - 2 February


Utrecht University, Drift 25 (room 105)

Type of activity


Type of activity

5 EC

Primary target group

PhD students

About the topic

In this PhD course the subject of climate ethics will be studied from a variety of perspectives. There will be ten meetings, each started with a short introduction by the principal lecturer of the particular meeting. The lecturer will discuss some of the literature that serves as a starting point for a literature search on the subject by the PhD students themselves. On the basis of this literature search, one of the students will orally present his/her findings leading to discussions with the other students. The principal lecturer will moderate this discussion. The course will be closed by a paper on a subject of the students own choosing (4000 words, 10 pages, in English), and of course evaluation of the course.


January 30 2017, morning session – afternoon session

1. Introduction: the science and economics of climate change, and the history of climate policy

Lecturer: Marc Davidson

Gardiner, S., 2004a, ‘Ethics and global climate change’, Ethics 114, 555–600.
Gardiner, Stephen M. “A perfect moral storm: climate change, intergenerational ethics and the problem of moral corruption.” Environmental Values (2006): 397-413.

2. Climate policy and democracy. How to represent the interests of the far future?

Lecturer: Bernice Bovenkerk

Rupert Read, Guardians of the Future. A constitutional case for representing and protecting future people. (Weymouth, Dorset, UK: Green House, 2011).
Robert E. Goodin, ‘Enfranchising All Affected Interests, and Its Alternatives’ (2007) 35 (1) Philosophy and Public Affairs 40

3. How should we respond to small chances of catastrophes?

Lecturer: Andreas Spahn


Hans Jonas: The Imperative of Responsibility. In Search of an Ethics for the Technological Age, Chapter 1 & Chapter 2, University of Chicago Press, 1984

January 31 2017, morning session – afternoon session

4. What is a fair international distribution of responsibilities to reduce emissions? How should we deal with past emissions?

Lecturer: Marc Davidson


Caney, Simon. “Cosmopolitan justice, responsibility, and global climate change.” Leiden journal of international law 18.04 (2005): 747-775.

5. Ethics of geo-engineering and nuclear energy

Lecturer: Behnam Taebi


Gardiner, Stephen M. “Is ‘arming the future’with geoengineering really the lesser evil? Some doubts about the ethics of intentionally manipulating the climate system.” Climate Ethics: Essential Readings (2010): 284-312

6. How should we act in the face of scientific uncertainty? Is the precautionary principle of any use?

Lecturer: Andreas Spahn


Brown, 2012, Climate Change Ethics: Navigating the Perfect Moral Storm

Daniel Sarewitz, ‘How Science Makes Environmental Controversies Worse’ (2004) 7 Environmental Science and Policy  386.

February 1 2017, morning session – afternoon session

7. Should we cultivate sustainable lifestyles in the face of climate change and if so, how?

Lecturer: Michiel Korthals


Bovens, L. (2009). The Ethics of Nudge. In: T. Grüne-Yanoff and S.O. Hansson (Eds.), Preference Change. Springer, Dordrecht, Netherlands, p. 207-219

House of Lords (2011), Behavior Change, HLpaper 179. Stationery Office, London, p. 1-111

Thaler, R. and C. Sunstein (2008). Nudge. Penguin, London

8. Climate Change and the emergence of the Anthropocene

Lecturer: Vincent Blok


Ernst Jünger, At the time wall, selection of texts
Bruno Latour, Gifford lectures, lecture 3 and 4
Martin Heidegger, Building, Dwelling, Thinking
Joep van Lieshout, Slave City, selection of texts/pictures

February 2 2017, morning session – afternoon session

9/10.      How to deal with the inevitable effects of climate change? Assisted migration

Lecturer: Jozef Keulartz/Martin Drenthen

11. Evaluation and discussion



Certificate / credit points



For OZSW members: free
For non OZSW members: 250 euro

Location / accommodation details

Limited budget is available to financially support OZSW PhD students living far away from Utrecht. If you want to benefit from it, please send a motivated request at secretariaat@ozsw.nl before 16 January.


How to apply / register

Registration/application form


-Marc Davidson, UvA

-Bernice Bovenkerk, Wageningen UR

Contact info

Zoé Evrard: secretariaat@ozsw.nl