Local natures? Climate change, beliefs, facts and norms

Gideon Calder*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    It is banal to say that different beliefs provide the basis for different conceptions of the good and diverse ways of life, the protection of which will seem to many to be paramount as a matter of justice. But what happens when those beliefs are about global processes of the magnitude of those involved in climate change, with the scale of their implications? How, and to what extent, should the diversity of local beliefs about factors relevant to climate change be factored into a normative response to the challenges it poses? This article is framed in response to the companion piece 'Local perceptions in climate change debates', which presents detailed contrasts between such beliefs in Peru and the South Tyrol. Focusing on perceptions of the nature/culture relationship as an example, I contrast 'globalist' and 'localist' normative responses to evidence of such diversity in belief. Both are limited, to the extent that they dwell on the fair treatment of beliefs. I argue that normatively speaking, what is crucial is not accommodating diversity in belief - as if beliefs about the factors implicated in climate change were on a par with other beliefs about the nature of the good - but acknowledging the requirement to make 'thick' commitments about which such beliefs are most adequate. Alongside their fascinating contributions in other respects, anthropological findings can be crucial in this one. They will help furnish the kind of understanding of human/nature relations on which a political philosophy of climate change must depend.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)525-533
    Number of pages9
    JournalClimatic Change
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


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