Departement Filosofie

Nieuws en evenementen


Due to the summer recess, it is certainly worthwhile to take a look at what colleagues have written about the current situation in recent months: 


January 2019-2020 Thesis Prize

The Philosophy Department is delighted to announce that the MA Thesis Prize winner for the January 2019 cohort is Milou Maassen for her thesis entitled "Facing Climate Change: A Levinasian understanding of the individual's moral responsibility to respond to climate change".  The thesis was supervised by Dr. Bert van de Ven. The abstract can be found below. 

The department congratulates Milou for this excellent work and wishes her all the best for the future!

Facing Climate Change: A Levinasian understanding of the individual's moral responsibility to respond to

climate change - By Milou Maassen

In this thesis, I will argue that Emmanuel Levinas’ notion of an infinite responsibility can improve our individual responses to climate change. As political institutions face challenges that inhibit successful ‘top-down’ responses, I believe we should consider the climate problem from an individual approach. Yet, individuals generally deny responsibility for global problems. Therefore, my aim is to show that we are individually responsible to change our behaviour in light of climate change. In order to do so, I will mainly evaluate Levinas’ ideas from ‘Totality and Infinity’ (1969), in which he describes that the individual bears an infinite moral responsibility for the well-being of the Other. Yet, as he did not develop an ethical theory from which specific norms can be derived, I will be careful in my interpretations of his ideas and their relevance for the climate problem. I will argue that his ideas support the claims that we are responsible to relieve all human suffering caused by climate change, as well as for minimizing our own contributions to it. Moreover, I will discuss two possible objections to this idea, namely whether this approach is anthropocentric, and whether it is overdemanding for the individual. I will conclude that Levinas’ strong focus on the individual is helpful if we want to properly address the question of moral responsibility for the climate problem. Though, working towards a more sustainable future also requires collective action, and it is a process that is never complete.