Nov 082012
 November 8, 2012

Understanding Skepticism about Climate Change

Simon Keller, Associate Professor of History, Philosophy, Political Science & International Relations at Victoria University Wellington, New Zealand (currently on leave at Rice University), will be speaking November 19th as part of the Monday Seminar Series from 12:00-1:30 in room 101, West Duke Building.

Skepticism about climate change is a strong and surging political force, and more than any other factor it stands in the way of serious global action on climate change. Why is skepticism about climate change so widespread, and why is it most prominent on the conservative side of politics? Keller will approach disagreement about climate change as a special case of the wider problem faced by laypersons who need to decide which experts to trust. It is understandable that those of a certain ideological orientation should place their trust in the putative experts who deny climate change – and hence that the move to climate change skepticism can be construed as an exercise of rationality. This result offers a new and more optimistic view about the possibility of rational progress in the political debate about climate change.

Keller works on various topics in ethics, political philosophy and metaphysics. He lived in Wellington as a child, and has since lived in Melbourne, then the US, then Melbourne again, and now back to Wellington. He spent five years working in the Philosophy department at Boston University and two years at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne. During his time in Boston, he also held a faculty fellowship at the Center for Ethics at Harvard University and taught in Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.