Environmental Ethics in the Anthropocene


Mardi, 12 Décembre, 2017 - 13:56

Environmental Ethics in the Anthropocene* sera le thème de la prochaine conférence "Ethique et intégrité". Elle se déroulera le 20 décembre au Grand Amphithéâtre du MNHN à partir de 18h00. Elle sera faite en anglais par J. Baird Callicott, Professeur émérite de Philosophie et ancien titulaire de la chaire de philosophie de l’Université North Texas. Les inscriptions sont ouvertes.

 J. Baird Callicott is Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy and formerly Regents Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Texas

In his presentation, J. Baird Callicott will tackle the very singular side of ethics which is environmental ethics. As a professor of philosophy, he will help us think and position ourselves individually and collectively on one of the “hottest” topics for our future : climate change and its resulting ethical issues.



Geologic units of time are defined by boundaries in the rock strata, consisting of (1) biogeochemical discontinuities (e. g., the sudden appearance of iridium) or (2) biotic discontinuities (e. g., the mass extinction of species). The Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary is marked by both, and so is the advent of the Anthropocene: (1) the sudden appearance of artificial radioactive elements and a sudden spike in atmospheric carbon dioxide; and (2) a sixth mass extinction event. While the former discontinuities occurred very recently (mid-18th century and mid-20th century), the latter began, at a global scale, about 12,000 years ago with the extinction of the North and South American megafauna. That therefore marks the beginning of the Anthropocene, which is thus coextensive with the Holocene. The Holocene/Anthropocene climate made human civilization possible. Therefore, the categorical imperative of environmental ethics in the Anthropocene is the preservation of the Holocene climate. The human spatial and temporal scales of ethics are incommensurable with the spatial and temporal scales of climate change. An efficacious climate ethic must be simultaneously both affective and personal and collective and political.   


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