chapter  4
28 Pages

Virtues

WithToby Svoboda

The fourth chapter addresses the virtues and vices that different agents might exhibit in deploying SRM. I claim that there are virtuous and vicious manners of deployment and argue that virtue-oriented considerations of SRM are not only interesting in their own right but also relevant to questions about both the moral value/disvalue of SRM and its moral permissibility. Virtuous agents of SRM are more likely than non-virtuous ones to produce morally valuable outcomes and to act it in a way that is morally permissible (when that is possible). This gives us reason to consider how certain virtues and vices might be operative in SRM deployment. In particular, I discuss the virtues of justice, benevolence, humility, and practical wisdom and the vices of injustice, greed, short-sightedness, and moral corruption. I contend that a virtuous climate engineer is possible and sketch the features she or he would display. Importantly, the idea of a virtuous agent of SRM provides a fruitful way to approach pessimistic scenarios in which all courses of action involve serious ethical problems. Being practically wise, the virtuous agent knows how to navigate bad situations in the best manner possible. I argue that there are certain ways a virtuous agent would (and would not) act in a pessimistic scenario, including whether she would characteristically be in favor of deploying SRM. I argue that this makes it promising to pursue virtue-oriented investigations of climate engineering, even for those who are not committed to virtue ethics as being the best normative ethical theory.