Here’s a potent question: why aren’t there legions of eco-warriors keying cars?
Say fifty people vandalising four cars each every night for a month: six thousand trashed SUVs in a month and the Chelsea tractors would soon be disappearing from our streets. So why don’t these things happen?
Reading that really set me back in my seat.
The scary thing is that apathy about global warming is present in people of authority whom future generations will be doubtless be proud to include in their intellectual heritage. United States Supreme Court justices, for example.
Take a recent case involving demands for the control of carbon dioxide emissions. Reading the oral arguments, we can be astonished by the following:
JUSTICE SCALIA: I told you before I’m not a scientist…. That’s why I don’t want to have to deal with global warming, to tell you the truth.
For interesting commentary about whether or not it it anatomically possible to throw up your hands and sick your head in the sand, hop over to Althouse.
Should we be surprised, though? Even committed (or at least self-professed) environmentalists have a problem with climate change, because it forces us to alter our life in unwanted ways. Inconveniently, Al Gore wants his family mansion, and excuses the environmental cost by purchasing ‘environmental credits’. Similarly green-minded airline passengers can purchase ‘carbon credits’ to travel the globe. We now have indulgences for the 21st century.
Faced with this, why aren’t the radicals, the protesters, the tofu-munching eco-freaks, sneaking into parking lots with keys at the ready. Is it because they are unlocking their own cars? Perhaps this is the cost of the environmental movement thriving on its own mainstream credibility. I like to think something deeper is at work.
With this in mind, I ask the reader to think back to philosophy lessons about Hume’s theory of moral motivation.
Hume thought people don’t act on moral beliefs unless they desire to do so for other reasons. It isn’t enough to know contributing to global warming violates our ethical beliefs. We have to want to prevent it for other reasons.
It appears evident, that the ultimate ends of human actions can never, in any case, be accounted for by reason, but recommend themselves entirely to the sentiments and affections of mankind, without any dependance on the intellectual faculties.
That passage come from An Enquiry Concerning the Principles off Morals, and reveals the Humean heritage of modern experimental philosophy.
And here I spot opportunity. Given the recent advances in neuroethics, I think we have a prime target for some compelling empirical research. Not only would it tell us if Hume is right, but it would shed light on why even those who believe climate change is a problem can’t seem to care enough to fix it.
I can already see the grant applications. Moral motivations are the next big thing in neuroethics, and it’s time to hop on the trolley.