2021 Alan Saunders Lecture

Stephen Gardiner

Climate Crisis & Institutional Denialism:

Is it Time for a Global Constitutional Convention for the Young & Other Future Generations?

We have reached crunch time for the climate. In this talk, I outline our predicament and propose a solution. In my view, climate change is a profound ethical challenge, and new institutions are needed to address it. I call the ethical challenge ‘a perfect moral storm’, and argue that, sadly, current climate strategies, including the Paris Agreement, are inadequate to meet it. Part of the reason for this failure is the inadequacy of existing institutions, but surprisingly, most discussion of solutions ignores this fundamental fact. My aim is to confront this institutional denialism directly. I argue for a global constitutional convention for the future, akin to the American constitutional convention of 1787, which gave rise to the present structure of government in the United States. This deliberative forum would confront the serious “governance gap” that currently exists surrounding concern for the young and other future generations. Moreover, the “obvious” objections are not as compelling as one might think.

Professor of Philosophy and Ben Rabinowitz Endowed Professor of the Human Dimensions of the Environment at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he is also the Director of the Program on Ethics. Areas of specialisation: applied ethics, climate change, environment, ethics, Greek (classical), human rights and political philosophy. Stephen’s current research focuses on global environmental problems (especially climate change), future generations, and virtue ethics.

A live streamed event, this lecture is also recorded by the ABC & available for download after the event.

Broadcasts Monday 16 August, 8 pm on RN’s ‘Big Ideas’, and will be available as a podcast.

Alan Saunders 1954 - 2012 

Alan Saunders was a prince among broadcasters. Of all the journalists I've ever met, he had the deepest love of, and also understanding of, philosophy, and his passion for ideas made doing a program with him a highlight of one's year -- even long distance by phone, and even more in person in the studio. What he brought to public discussion was priceless'.

- Martha Nussbaum, University of Chicago

In recognition of his enduring work, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, in association with the Australasian Association of Philosophy presents an annual Alan Saunders Memorial Lecture. The lecture aims to spread the joy of philosophy and make it accessible to the wider public.

Picture - Michal Kluvanek

2021  Stephen Gardiner

2020  Cancelled due to pandemic

2019  Alison Wylie

2018  Serene Khader

2017  Nancy Sherman

2016  Susan Wolf

2015  Cordelia Fine

2014  Philip Pettit

2013 Simon Blackburn

©Australasian Association of Philosophy
ACN 152 892 272
ABN 29
152 892 272
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