Oproep van SOPHIA-leden aan filosofische gemeenschap

Dit is een oproep van SOPHIA-leden – Grace and Michelle – aan de filosofische gemeenschap over de klimaatcrisis: een verzoek om hulp.

Dear Colleagues and friends,

We want to tell you about an initiative that is in the very early stages of development in the hope that you may decide to join us. Or, if you are already working in this area, then perhaps you’ll let everyone know what you are doing and allow us to join you!

I know we’re not alone in feeling horrified by the Climate Crisis. Michelle articulates our concerns well in her recent blog post: “The climate crisis now poses a risk to humanity that is not just grave but existential. It is no longer controversial that we are killing the things needed for our own survival. On the current trajectory of global carbon emissions, we risk, within this century, the displacement of hundreds of millions of people, the loss of most animal and plant species, and severe shortages of clean air, water and food – which, if realised, would likely lead to the collapse of civilisation.”

Some of us may have been inspired – or even shamed – by the thousands of people (including young children) who are using their limited resources to take action, even in the face of astonishing political inaction. You might have already reflected on what you can do personally from changing your behaviour to taking to the streets. I’m sure plenty of you are already acting on theses reflections and this message is not intended to suggest otherwise.

We are inviting you as a philosopher or philosophical educator to consider how you can use your professional skills and your public platform to help address the climate and ecological emergency that we all face.

We are proposing to find a way to work with activists, educators, students and the general public to support the development of the kinds of critical and compassionate conversations that will help people understand the complex ethical issues at play within this crisis and connect their considered views with achievable action. We intend to tap into our existing networks and the international networks that have already done so much in order to devise an offer that can support these communities on their terms. We also want to invite the wider public to join the conversation including those who doubt the evidence and don’t support the protests.

This is not a politically neutral proposal but we are willing to suspend the political neutrality that is often expected of professionals because, as Michelle puts it, “the stakes are too high to stay silent”. However, while we are not impartial when to comes to the view that we must to act to avoid climate catastrophe, we also recognise that beneath this headline there is a nexus of complex philosophical issues to do with “our moral responsibilities to the environment, non-human species, future generations, and the global poor; global governance and international cooperation; the role of individuals and institutions; scientific and moral uncertainty; the ethics of expertise and communication; and more.” (As summarised in an article by the Daily Nous). It is perfectly possible to support these kinds of conversations with the kind of “epistemological” neutrality that is appropriate in cases where issues are contestable and the “pedagogical” neutrality necessary to get participants thinking for themselves (to use Jason Buckley’s distinction).
I note here that at previous board meetings, serious concerns have been raised about not politicising SOPHIA. In respect of that, I want to stress that I put this proposal to you as an individual and not as a board member. This suggestion has not been endorsed by SOPHIA and your involvement or lack-thereof is purely something for you to consider as a professional independently or your membership of our SOPHIA network.

If you are interested in working together then you might consider the following next steps useful:
• Michelle’s blog post can be read in full here: https://thephilosophyclub.com.au/2019/07/29/wake-up/
• This Daily Nous article highlights some of the philosophical issues raised by the Climate Crisis: http://dailynous.com/2015/12/08/philosophers-on-climate-change/
• You can find out more about the International work of Extinction Rebellion here: https://rebellion.earth/
• …and about the School Strikes here: https://www.schoolstrike4climate.com/ and here: https://globalclimatestrike.net/
• You can find the words of Greta Thunberg here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFkQSGyeCWg

We have attached notes from our first meeting to give you a better sense of what we propose to do at this point. Your thoughts and suggestions on this are very welcome and we encourage you to join us in seeking support your own initiatives too. We already know that that Sue Lyle, Eugenio Echeverría, Pat Hamman, Jason Buckley (and post probably others) have experience and/or ideas to share.
If having done this, you feel you could help in any way, please reply to this email indicating that you would like me to add you to our Google Group which you can access here once you are a member. The conversation will continue there to ensure that only those who explicitly sign up will receive any further correspondence.

Please forward this message to colleagues who you think might be interesting in joining us.

Together I hope we can help one another to wake up.

All the best,
Grace and Michelle