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Noon seminar - Climate ethics and hope

Monday, February 17, 2020, 12:15PM - 1:15PM


Dominic Roser

Interdisciplinary Institute for Ethics and Human Rights, University of Fribourg


SEEC S228 (Sievers Room)

Remote presentation.

Coffee and cookies before the talk.


Many of us who work on environmental issues feel torn about how we communicate current environmental challenges and also about how we should personally feel about them. On the one hand, there is a sense that the seriousness of these challenges is widely underestimated. On the other hand, we don't want to spread despair and depression. In this talk, I want to focus on one specific aspect of this tension: should we cultivate hope about climate change (and more specifically: hope to achieve the 1.5° goal)? Hope is routinely invoked as an 'icing': people who give talks on climate change feel the need to finish off their hard message with some positive vibes. However, those who do so often don't take hope particularly seriously. Someone who does take hope seriously but goes for the opposing stance is Greta Thunberg. She famously claimed that she doesn't want us to be hopeful. In this talk, I want to take the question of hope seriously but argue against Greta Thunberg. I give a quick overview over the philosophical analysis of the concept of hope and then look at two questions. First, is hope justified given the current scientific evidence? Second, if it is justified, what speaks for and against hope from a moral perspective?


Dominic Roser is a senior lecturer at the Interdisciplinary Institute for Ethics and Human Rights. As a philosopher and economist he focuses on the ethics of climate change, sustainability, global justice, intergenerational justice, risk, human rights, non-ideal theory, and ethical questions pertaining to economic policy, economic theory, and business.


Free and open to the public.