Colloquium global change on Wednesday 22.11.2017

Dear fellow students, this is a reminder on the colloquial talk held by Prof. Dr. Achim Koeddermann, State University New York, on

“Certification for Climate Change: The Normative failures of deriving an “ought” from an “is”
 – the need for philosophical foundations for scientists”

The lecture will take place at 12 a.m. (Noon!) in C IV 266.


In teaching Environmental Ethics we find that students struggle to think rationally about the ethics of climate change. The buzz word „climate change“ seems to be the replacement for the undefined „sustainability“ of the last 10 years. Almost all of the scientists and social scientists make the following inference: 

Anthropogenic climate change is occurring. Therefore, anthropogenic climate change is bad. (The only debate is on „facts“ no interpretation of data, and normative context). 

This inference is invalid. Not all change is bad. Charitably treating it as an enthymeme, in discussing this with students they struggle with the task of finding the missing premise that will make the inference valid and sound. Typically, the inference turns out to be a matter of learned faith rather than careful reflection. This means that my colleague Dr. Koch and myself find ourselves in a debate on faith, on science.  

If we are serious about educating beyond the science of climate change, we believe it imperative that scientists also acquire the critical ethical thinking skills needed to rationally consider the issues at stake. The obvious place for this is Environmental Ethics, but this is not the only solution.

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