Internal Reasons and the Problem of Climate Change

in Theoria
Author:
David Hall Researcher, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand david.hall@aut.ac.nz

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Abstract

Climate action is conventionally framed in terms of overcoming epistemic and practical disagreement. An alternative view is to treat people's understandings of climate change as fundamentally pluralistic and to conceive of climate action accordingly. This paper explores this latter perspective through a framework of philosophical psychology, in particular Bernard Williams's distinction between internal and external reasons. This illuminates why the IPCC's framework of ‘Reasons for Concern’ has an inefficacious relationship to people's concerns and, hence, why additional reason giving is required. Accordingly, this paper recommends a model of truthful persuasion, which acknowledges the plurality of people's motivations and sincerely strives to connect the facts of climate change to people's subjective motivational sets.

Contributor Notes

David Hall is senior researcher at the Policy Observatory, Auckland University of Technology, Aotearoa, New Zealand. His research interests include climate policy and ethics, policy communication, land use policy and sustainable finance. He is editor of the essay collection A Careful Revolution, which explores the politics of the low-emissions transition in Aotearoa, New Zealand. He is also principal investigator for the AUT Living Laboratories project, which works with indigenous people to establish ecological restoration sites as nature-based solutions to climate change, and cofounder of Mōhio's Climate Innovation Lab, which designs funding and financing solutions for climate-aligned projects. E-mail: david.hall@aut.ac.nz

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Theoria

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