Benjamin Hale
  Associate Professor, Philosophy and Environmental Studies
Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Community
Office SEEC S238A
Campus Box 488
University of Colorado at Boulder
Boulder, Colorado 80309-0488


Can We Remediate Wrongs?
Paper in progress

Working paper presented at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research Noontime Seminars

October 25, 2007

Many people want to say this: That pollution is wrong. Typically, they say this on harm grounds: Pollution is wrong because it is harmful to other people, to animals, or to nature more generally. This seems about right. In earlier work I argued that pollution is wrong because it is disrespectful; so I argued that pollution is wrong, but I disagreed about what makes it wrong. In this paper, I will argue a related point that pollution is a kind of wrong and that this wrong is irremediable. If my claim is accurate, then we can conclude (a) that we ought not to pollute, since it disrespects people, and (b) that we ought to seek to clean up our pollution through remediation programs on restitution grounds, and (c) that we can be held accountable for doing wrong even if we prevent harm from coming to others by employing remediation technologies. I think this argument is in line with the common view, but that the argument from harms is not.