Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Martin Schönfeld, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Alex Levine, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joanne B. Waugh, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William Mark Goodwin, Ph.D.


character, climate change, continence, honor, virtue ethics


Climate change is the first anthropogenic alteration of a global Earth system. It is globally catastrophic in terms of food production, sea level rise, fresh water availability, temperature elevation, ocean acidification, species disturbance and destruction to name just a few crisis concerns. In addition, while those changes are occurring now, they are amplifying over decadal periods and will last for centuries and possibly millennia. While there are a number of pollutants involved, carbon dioxide (CO2) which results from the combustion of any fossil fuel is the primary pollutant. It has not been considered a pollutant until recently because of its natural dissociation into oxygen and carbon compounds like wood. However, because of its molecular durability and ability to acidify water, it has become the primary pollutant as a result of the exponential increase in fossil fuel use for the production of energy by Earth’s population that has doubled over the last six decades. That increase has exceeded Earth’s ability to handle humanity’s waste CO2. Obviously, the involved changes detrimentally affect all life on Earth. Because of the evolving nature of the changes, climate change is presently denied primarily in the United States because of the costs of eliminating our carbon addiction. Because no similar global natural or anthropogenic situation has previously occurred during the lifetime of Homo sapiens, our extant ethical theories are incapable of confronting the crisis. Consequently, new ethical paradigms are necessary. This dissertation attempts to provide thoughts about the use of Aristotelian ethical theory, the aidōs feeling, Aquinian psychology and a possible new virtue of proper primility in an effort to further nurture the growth of the new climate change ethics.

Included in

Climate Commons