Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change

Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change

Human Virtues of the Future

Edited by Allen Thompson and Jeremy Bendik-Keymer

An analytically precise and theoretically probing exploration of the challenge to our values and virtues posed by climate change.





An analytically precise and theoretically probing exploration of the challenge to our values and virtues posed by climate change.

Predictions about global climate change have produced both stark scenarios of environmental catastrophe and purportedly pragmatic ideas about adaptation. This book takes a different perspective, exploring the idea that the challenge of adapting to global climate change is fundamentally an ethical one, that it is not simply a matter of adapting our infrastructures and economies to mitigate damage but rather of adapting ourselves to realities of a new global climate. The challenge is to restore our conception of humanity—to understand human flourishing in new ways—in an age in which humanity shapes the basic conditions of the global environment. In the face of what we have unintentionally done to Earth's ecology, who shall we become?

The contributors examine ways that new realities will require us to revisit and adjust the practice of ecological restoration; the place of ecology in our conception of justice; the form and substance of traditional virtues and vices; and the organizations, scale, and underlying metaphors of important institutions. Topics discussed include historical fidelity in ecological restoration; the application of capability theory to ecology; the questionable ethics of geoengineering; and the cognitive transformation required if we are to “think like a planet.”


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262017534 360 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 1 b&w photo, 1 chart


$35.00 X ISBN: 9780262517652 360 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 1 b&w photo, 1 chart


Allen Thompson

Allen Thompson is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Oregon State University.

Jeremy Bendik-Keymer

Jeremy Bendik-Keymer is Elmer G. Beamer-Hubert H. Schneider Professor in Ethics and Associate Professor of Philosophy at Case Western Reserve University. He is the author of The Ecological Life: Discovering Citizenship and a Sense of Humanity.


  • Any thought that adaptation means somehow 'giving in' to climate change is banished by this book. The stellar cast assembled here takes us beyond mere coping strategies to a full-blown account of human flourishing. Here, the insights of ecology and the demands of justice are bound together by the increasingly influential idea of virtue, and the grounding of all this in institutional redesign makes this one of the most original climate change books of recent times.

    Andrew Dobson

    Professor of Politics, Keele University, UK

  • Drawing on work that ranges from the best resources of classical philosophy to the latest environmental science, this book argues that we need to rethink our sense of ourselves and our characters to take account of the institutional and global nature of the problems to be addressed. The result is not only an original and thought-provoking volume, but a hopeful and realistic blueprint for environmental action.

    Susan Neiman

    Director, Einstein Forum

  • Adapt or perish! This is the best of the anthologies arguing that humans ought to adapt to climate change, which they can no longer entirely prevent. At best they can only partially restore what has already been lost. There is sad truth: biodiversity that cannot adapt, or be adapted, is in jeopardy. But here is good news: a vision of human flourishing in a brave new world.

    Holmes Rolston, III

    University Distinguished Professor and Professor of Philosophy, Colorado State University