Moral reasoning in adaptation to climate change
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
© The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http:// creativecommons.org/Licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Moral foundations theory argues that moral reasoning is widely observed and fundamental to the legitimacy of relevant governance and policy interventions. A new analytical framework to examine and test how moral reasoning underpins and legitimizes governance and practice on adaptation to climate change risks is proposed. It develops a typology of eight categories of vulnerability-based and system-based moral reasoning that pertain to the dilemmas around adaptation and examines the prevalence of these moral categories in public discourse about specific adaptation issues. The framework is tested using data on climate change impact, adaptation, and societal responsibility, drawn from 14 focus groups comprising 148 participants across the UK. Participants consistently use moral reasoning to explain their views on climate adaptation; these include both vulnerability-based and system-based framings. These findings explain public responses to adaptation options and governance, and have implications for the direction of adaptation policy, including understanding which types of reasoning support politically legitimate interventions.
We acknowledge funding from the University of Exeter Humanities and Social Science Strategy; the UK Economic and Social Research Council (Grant ES/M006867/1); and National Institute for Health Research, Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Environmental Change and Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in partnership with Public Health England. We thank IPSOS-MORI and the UK Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs for access to the data used here. We benefitted from interactions with Karen Parkhill, Ben Wheeler, Stuart Capstick and Saffron O’Neill and feedback from participants at the Governing Sustainability workshop at the University of Sydney, March 2015, and the Royal Meteorological Society conference, London, November 2015. We further benefitted from helpful guidance from David Schlosberg and from two referees. This version remains our sole responsibility.
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