Between Activism and Apathy: The Anthropocene as a Super-wicked Problem

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Understanding the problem of climate change and the Anthropocene requires interdisciplinary co-operation. Based on such an approach and drawing on philosophy as well as political science, the paper highlights recent work by legal scholars (Lazarus 2008) and political scientists (Levin et al. 2012) to suggest that the challenge can be characterized a so-called ‘super wicked problem’. A su-per wicked problem is characterized by four features: that time is running out, that those best posi-tioned to solve the problem are also causing the problem, that a central authority for coordinating action is lacking and that decision makers are seemingly the discounting the future irrationally. Thinking of the challenge of climate change and the Anthropocene as a ‘super wicked problem’ is ripe with implications. While paper recognizes the ‘politico-affective’ (Connolly 2019) conse-quences, i.e. that the ‘super wickedness’ of the environmental challenges confronting us puts us in an uneasy place between activism (“We must act now!”) and apathy (“Nothing can be done any-way”), it also argues the characterization of climate change and the Anthropocene as a ‘super wick-ed problem’ offers us a place to start. Knowing what kind of problem something is, makes it more likely that avenues – local as well as global – for addressing it can be described and developed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventThe British Academy Conference 2023: An Aesthetic Enquiry of the Anthropocene - The Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 30 Mar 202331 Mar 2023


ConferenceThe British Academy Conference 2023
LocationThe Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
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