Reconsidering Virtue in the Anthropocene: A return to individual virtue in order to overcome the corruption of climate change.
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In this paper I explore the role of individual virtue within the Anthropocene. Authors like Stephen Gardiner and Dale Jamieson appeal to a return to individual character in order to overcome the moral corruption of climate change. In response, virtue ethicists have proposed new virtues that promote the flourishing of humanity at a global scale. However, these “species virtues” have diminished individual flourishing and agency in the process. By incorporating these species virtues into what it means to flourish as an individual, we may return to individual character as a way to flourish in the Anthropocene. I aim to illustrate how a return to individual flourishing, and the corresponding virtues is not only suitable for coping with climate change, but also motivates us to overcome the challenges of the Anthropocene. Returning to individual character grants us access to public virtues and the ethical tools of role models. In doing so, these role models may motivate us to act more virtuously. When paired with public virtues, we may be able to build the necessary institutions to overcome the moral corruption of climate change.