"The opportunity cost argument for discounting" by Dr Dominic Roser

Past Event

15 May 2012, 3:00pm - 4:30pm

Lecture Theatre, Oxford Martin School
34 Broad Street (corner of Holywell and Catte Streets), Oxford, OX1 3BD

This seminar is hosted by the Institute for Science and Ethics

Summary: The damage caused by present greenhouse gas emissions occurs to a significant extent in the further future. Some claim that this diminishes the reason we have to prevent them. One basis for this claim is the opportunity cost argument for discounting. Derek Parfit remarked that the opportunity cost argument is the hardest to assess among the various arguments for discounting. The purpose of this talk is to examine the structure of the opportunity cost argument, the strength of its conclusion and the contours of the presupposed premises. The primary example will be climate policy. While I find that some of the premises of the opportunity cost argument are surprisingly weak, I still conclude that, for the specific case of climate change, it has very limited relevance. One theme of the talk will also be the question what we mean by discounting and whether the opportunity cost argument really is an argument for discounting.

Speaker: Dr Dominic Roser, Institute for Philosophy, University of Graz

Biography: Dominic Roser is a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Graz in a project that unites economists and philosophers to work on challenges for international and European climate policy after Copenhagen. He is also a research associate at the Ethics Centre of the University of Zurich. With a background in economics and philosophy, his research of the past years focused on questions of justice in climate policy, intergenerational justice, normative aspects of climate economics, risk imposition and non-ideal theory.