Corruption and Climate Change, An Institutional Approach


Liesbeth Feikema, University of Utrecht

Liesbeth addressed Corruption and Climate Change, An Institutional Approach. After noting Gardiner’s definition of moral corruption, and his explanation using the storyline of sense and sensibility it was suggested that this definition should be built upon. This was done by noting the intrinsic features of a promise. One intrinsic feature of a promise is that circumstances remain equal throughout the promise. In the storyline of sense and sensibility the circumstances do not remain equal, the nature of the relationship was redefined from the making and moment of the promise. Building on Gardiner’s definition, a more defined and systematic approach to moral corruption was suggested; “moral corruption is the undermining of the social norm that one pretends to compel with, by intentionally – and unjustly – reframing the original circumstances and adapting the obligation(s) under that norm in a way that better suits one’s self interest.” It was acknowledged that institutions have moral obligations. Legally, these obligations were first recognised in the neighbour principle in Donoghue v Stephenson. In concluding, future generations in addressing climate change firstly have to institutionalise obligations to avoid moral corruption. We have to keep in mind the danger of these open norms.


This talk was held at:

Imagining a Different Future

Climate Justice Conference

The University of Tasmania with the support of the University of Utrecht Ethics Institute hosted a multidisciplinary conference examining the barriers to responding to climate change, implementing climate justice, and proposing ways forward. Among the keynote speakers were Law Faculty Professors Jan McDonald and Ben Richardson. The Law Faculty's Dr Peter Lawrence co-convened the conference with Jan Linehan. The conference took place in Hobart from 8-9 Feb 2018.

Despite the Paris Agreement, there are real concerns the prevailing neoliberal economic and political model, particularly with the move to more insular, nationalistic, fragile politics, cannot respond effectively to climate change and excludes key considerations such as ethics and justice. Videos and Podcasts from the conference are available on the Knowledge Hub.