January 29, 2014 | Graham

Ethics does not mean ethical

Clive Hamilton is at it again – trying to stigmatise anyone who disagrees with his version of global warming as a “climate change denier”, and in this case likening them to opponents of vaccination.

Clive’s a nasty piece of work, and once urged a boycott of On Line Opinion merely for publishing articles by people who disputed some aspects of big environment’s version of global warming.

At that stage Clive was purporting to support the IPCC4’s version of climate change (although representatives of big environment like Al Gore were at the time making up their own facts). Now this version has been replaced by IPCC5, with claims of an increase in severe weather events, for example, withdrawn, along with a long list of other claims, including the retreat of glaciers in the Himalayas.

I’m not sure what Clive supports now. If it is still IPCC4, then he himself is a “climate change denier”, and if IPCC5, then he owes some of those he labelled “climate change deniers” at the time an apology.

Surely that would be the ethical thing to do.

But don’t expect ethics from a professor of ethics, because being a professor of ethics might even make you less ethical than the next academic.

In a 2006 study, Eric Schwitzgebel noted that ethics academics were more likely to steal library books than other academics. In January 2007 he refined his study to find the evidence even stronger. If book stealing is a good proxy for honesty, then, at least as far as US ethics academics are concerned, they’re less ethical than most.

But why expect the study of ethics to make people more ethical, Perhaps, rather than establishing what is ethical, it is merely the study of how to complicate ethics in such a way that what was thought to be unethical becomes perfectly acceptable?

Whatever the case, it makes you realise that teaching ethics in schools is no substitute for teaching morality.

Not only would you be teaching students from the works of Hamilton, whose attempt to demonise (and even criminalise) dissent, should put him at odds with the science curriculum as well as any serious ethical system, but others like Peter Singer, who believe in infanticide and eugenics.

Posted by Graham at 1:39 pm | Comments (9) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. It all depends on your perspective doesnt it.
    In my opinion Clive’s book Requiem For a Species is one of the best philosophical investigations into the tempo of the times written by an Australian.
    Funny how it mostly got four and five star on Amazon reviews.
    Funny how Clive is a good friend of Robert Manne, a professor of ethics at the ANU and holds the vice-chancellors chair in Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University. He must be doing and saying something right to hold such positions.

    And no Clive is not a nasty piece of work.
    The language he uses is no worse than that used by the right wing shock jocks and journalists, and the people including Tony Abbott and other coalition politicians, who attended ditch the witch rallies calling for Julia Gillard to be put in a bag and thrown into the ocean.
    It is also interesting that Clive wrote a book titled Silencing Dissent

    Comment by Freddy Krueger — January 29, 2014 @ 7:59 pm

  2. Clive also has flawed logic on vaccinations. Aren’t all those who are pro- vaccination safe from the diseases they fear will harm them ? If the vaccination works, why should they fear someone who is not vaccinated ?

    Vaccination should be a matter of free choice as should be our opinions on what changes climate.

    Anytime a Govt forces opinions or drugs on a populace, be very alarmed.

    Comment by Ross — January 29, 2014 @ 9:28 pm

  3. Freddy, you put your finger on just how deep the rot runs. Clive can be made to look respectable because of his employment and the fact he has been published.

    Comment by Graham — January 30, 2014 @ 8:45 am

  4. Graham, your comment re the presumed rot is rubbish. As is the contents of most of your original essay, especially the second half of it.

    Never mind that the language used by the right-wing shock jocks and journalists is full of the language of fear and loathing, and hate too. They consistently, even every day target and demonise both individuals and groups of those on the left and particularly greens. The Australian is waging a self declared war on the greens. The godless greens are responsible for all of our economic and other troubles too. Get rid of them.

    They all promote the line that the greens are godless pagans, anti-human, that they want to destroy our Christian way of life and diminish our freedoms, and are un-Australian.

    The biggest difference is that the essay by Clive in the Business Spectator would be read by very few people. Whereas the deliberately inflammatory speech and actions of the right wing loudmouths are published in the Murdoch press and broadcast on radio and television and therefore heard by millions of people.

    Comment by Freddy Krueger — January 30, 2014 @ 9:38 am

  5. Clive Hamilton is a determined supporter of the AGW fraud, which, as we all know, has no scientific backing. Clive sees his only defence of the fraud to be scurrilous and offensive abuse of his opponents, who propagate the truth about the fraud.
    The predictions of warming have worn thin after 17 years, of no warming, and the annual announcements pf “hottest year yet” would be a joke, if it did not remind us of the dishonesty of the AGW fraud backers, and their desperation to demonstrate a warming which does not exist.

    The” hottest year” yet in Australia was asserted to be 2013, by David Jones of the Bureau of Meteorology. The temperature upon which he relied was taken at Moomba, South Australia, where the temperature record commenced in 1995.
    The temperature record kept at Bathurst since 1858 showed that 1939 was a hotter year than 2013.

    Jones has previously shown his support for the AGW fraud, so this effort is no surprise.

    The melted Arctic always comes back, and the Antarctic ice did not melt, as has just been demonstrated by the fraud backers from University of NSW, who were stuck in the Antarctic ice which they asserted had been melted by AGW.

    It is no surprise that Obama has come out s a determined fraud backer, given his general dishonesty and incompetence. We are fortunate that Gillard and Rudd are no longer in a position to do further damage, to us, and Abbott will seek to rectify what they have done.

    Comment by Leo Lane — January 30, 2014 @ 10:48 am

  6. Thanks for your polite and detailed rebuttal of my article Freddy. Shall I let you ghost-write them in future so as to get the nuance right? Impossible to tell from what you’ve said where I’ve gone wrong. You might try substance over abuse.

    Comment by Graham — January 30, 2014 @ 11:13 am

  7. And of course one of the most ethically bankrupt and bankrupting occupations in todays world is to be a campaign manager or director for an election campaign whether for the Australian Federal Government or any other government.
    An occupation which involves telling downright lies, promoting half truths and manipulating peoples basest emotions.

    Comment by Freddy Krueger — January 30, 2014 @ 1:18 pm

  8. Ad hominem campaigns to demonise people who defend science against its perversion as though they are opponents of science are reminiscent of those which demonised as “anti-science” those who defended science against its deadly perversion in the prewar cult of eugenics. Eugenics masqueraded as science with lethal effect as it spread from Britain to America and thence to Hitler’s Germany and ultimately Auschwitz, as has been devastatingly chronicled in Edwin Black’s “War Against the Weak”.

    It’s not that the AGW explanation of climate variation has the remotest relationship with the eugenic theories of human variation, but each is an attack on the philosophy of science and each becomes an attack on the central Enlightenment value of freedom of speech when it becomes central to a campaign to libel, personally, its opponents.

    Pronouncements that are not, and cannot be, based on evidence are not science, and challenging them is not “denial” of “the science”. Such pronouncements include all computer simulations predicting the effect on global temperatures and sea levels, a century hence, of CO2 emissions in the meantime. Sorry to rain on the parade, but 2114 hasn’t happened yet and no observations of 2014-2114 temperatures are yet possible. Multivariate relationships such as that of global temperature with all the inputs governing it will not allow predictions of temperature within a degree or so – or within a country mile of it – without a very much better evidence-based quantitative understanding of how these factors will evolve and interact with one another in the coming years or even how they do now.

    Comment by Dion Giles — January 30, 2014 @ 6:18 pm

  9. Well written, Graham. I posted my concerns about Clive Hamilton’s writing on the St James Ethics Forum some years ago. His emotionally manipulative writing is the kind of stuff that gives visions of clean-cut children singing ‘Tomorrow belongs to me’.

    He and his mates Lewandowsky, Oreskes et al. are intellectually dishonest in their shrieking hysteria of climate activism.

    Comment by Chris — February 9, 2014 @ 1:43 pm

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