This article of mine was originally published on The Partially Examined Life.
If you needed proof that Pope Francis’ recent encyclical letter on care for the environment, Laudato si’, was not only seminal but radical, it would be that it is now being published by Verso, a leading publisher of leftist continental philosophy. It is sad then, that rather than focusing on the ideas themselves, all of the attention being given to this event is to sensationalist reactions to the Pope among conservatives- not least of all when he visited the USA. Even the respected philosopher Robert P. George tried to downplay Francis’ ability to know that climate change is anthropogenic, presenting the consensus on the matter by 97% of scientists as if it were of equal weight to the opposite opinion. But as Francis says in the document, this consensus means that the burden of proof is on the proponents of a business as usual approach to demonstrate that it will not cause serious harms. (§186) In this piece I will engage with just a little of the criticism of Francis, as an aid to clarify the ideas as well as to examine their limitations. Continue reading