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Nero's Fiddle: On Hope, Despair, and the Ecological Crisis

Andrew Fiala
Ethics and the Environment
Vol. 15, No. 1 (Spring 2010), pp. 51-68
Published by: Indiana University Press
DOI: 10.2979/ete.2010.15.1.51
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/ete.2010.15.1.51
Page Count: 18
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Nero's Fiddle: On Hope, Despair, and the Ecological Crisis
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Abstract

It may appear rational to pursue short term self interest if the ecological crisis is unsolvable: it may be rational to fiddle while Rome burns. This is especially true when others are not making environmentally friendly choices and when we want to allow peole extensive liberty to make their own choices. This paper examines this problem by utilizing the prisoner's dilemma and Hardin's tragedy of the commons. It argues that voluntary solutions to the ecological crisis are not promising, while also recognizing that governmental interventions are equally unhelpful. The problem identified is that it may in fact be rational to fiddle while Rome burns.

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