Philip Kitcher, the John Dewey Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University, is the author of twelve books, including Science in a Democratic Society (Prometheus Books, 2011), Preludes to Pragmatism (Oxford Univ. Pr., 2012), and, most recently, Deaths in Venice: The Cases of Gustav von Aschenbach (Columbia Univ. Pr., 2013). His interests lie in pragmatism (especially Dewey), science and social issues, naturalistic issues, and philosophy in literature. He is the first recipient of the American Philosophical Association's Prometheus Prize, which is awarded for "lifetime contriution to expanding the frontiers of research in philosophy and science.
Abstract: The easy problem of climate change is that of determining the reality of anthropogenic global warming. That problem has been made hard by deficiencies in our democracy. After a brief exploration of these claims, I’ll turn to the hard problem, that of ascertaining the extent of the threat to future human well-being and formulating a policy for addressing it. I’ll argue that we are forced to proceed in a context in which much of what we would like to know is beyond our epistemic reach, and that successful policies for responding to climate change require an extension of democracy in a global framework. Given the existing problems with what we think of as democracy today, any such extension looks unlikely.
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