Ethics in the Anthropocene: new paper in The Anthropocene Review

Together with Peter Brown and Chris Orr (both at McGill), I’ve co-authored a new article now available at The Anthropocene Review in advance of print. If you’d like a copy and don’t have institutional access I’m happy to email a .pdf, the abstract is below:

Ethics in the Anthropocene: a research agenda

The quantitative evidence of human impacts on the Earth System has produced new calls for planetary stewardship. At the same time, numerous scholars reject modern social sciences by claiming that the Anthropocene fundamentally changes the human condition. However, we cannot simply dismiss all previous forms of cultural learning or transmission. Instead, this paper examines ethics in the Anthropocene, and specifically what it implies for: (1) reassessing our normative systems in view of human impacts on the Earth System; (2) identifying novel ethical problems in the Anthropocene; and (3) repositioning traditional issues concerning fairness and environmental ethics. It concludes by situating ethics within the challenge of connecting multiple social worlds to a shared view of human and Earth histories and calls for renewed engagement with ethics.


  1. do you folks frame the imperative as coming from the anthropocene or as coming from your perspectives/interests as authors?

  2. The paper doesn’t try to frame an imperative. It’s more of an effort to both respond to some poor arguments and to set out some research avenues/approaches more likely (in our view) to be productive.

  3. That should have been clearer in the abstract (my mistake!); it is more clearly so in the paper.

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