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“Thin” versus “thick” moral reasoning

This article shows the importance of religion in climate narratives – it provides a strong moral reasoning for change and action.
© Adam Smith Center, Singapore

Scientifically driven climate action is based on “thin” moral reasoning.

This means that the moral force driving these climate actions are weak and lack conviction. This is because it has a narrow focus on technicalities such as reducing carbon emissions and achieving net-zero emissions. In turn, this means that it neglects considering the moral aspects which also drive climate action.

In contrast to this, a focus on religious thought develops “thick” moral reasoning. This is because religion fuels motivational moral commitments that drive climate action and social change. Religion is culturally rooted, meaning that different traditions rationalize morality and ethics differently. In turn, the approach of different religions to climate change also varies.

For one, in “On Care for Our Common Home”, Pope Francis offers a cosmic account of human responsibility. His argument demonstrates the vitality of a Christian world view in which humans are bestowed with the responsibility of creation care. This means that humans are the divinely appointed stewards of the Earth, and that God has entrusted humans to care and manage the planet. Significantly, this form of virtue ethics offers an escape from the narrow confines drawn by science and economics.

© Adam Smith Center, Singapore
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Environmental Ethics

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