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Ethics in the age of climate change

UCD Centre for Ethics in Public Life Lecture Series


In February 2020 the UCD Centre for Ethics in Public Life hosted a series of public lectures at MoLI, each looking at ethical questions that impact personal, public and professional spheres. The lectures featured prominent researchers in ethics from University College Dublin, and were held in MoLI’s Old Physics Theatre.

In this talk Professor Maeve Cooke proposes a certain kind of ethical perspective for orienting socio-political thinking and practice in the age of climate change. She starts from the premise that the most serious challenge facing humans today is rapid anthropogenic climate change, specifically the imminent destruction of the Earth’s life-generating and life-sustaining ecosystems due to collective human activity over several hundred years. It calls on humans globally fundamentally to rethink their ethics and their politics. The specific question addressed in this talk is: What would an appropriate ethical frame for a transformed and transformative politics look like?

Maeve Cooke is Professor of Philosophy at University College Dublin  and a member of the Royal Irish Academy. Her current research interests centre on the relation between freedom and authority, and on related questions of protest, resistance and violence. She is also exploring questions that arise for critical social thinking in the Anthropocene. She has published two monographs in critical social theory  and is the author of many articles in the areas of social and political philosophy. She is on the editorial board of a number of scholarly journals, and has held visiting appointments at leading universities in the USA and Europe.

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