Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Philosophy

Committee Chair

Christopher Preston

Commitee Members

Albert Borgmann, Dane Scott, Deborah Slicer


assemblage, climate, climate change, climate engineering, distributive agency, geoengineering, metaphysics, nonhuman others, vital materialism


University of Montana


Human interventions have resulted in striking changes to the global climate. I work from the understanding of anthropogenic climate change as the product of 250 years of emissions brought about through industrialization and continued by our fossil fuel economies and lifestyles. The instrumentalism of such activities can be traced back to our modern metaphysic, where inanimate matter becomes object and falls away from ‘man,’ the knowing, active subject. In this thesis, I specifically address how this division of passive object from active subject pervades our understanding of climate and conditions the ethics of our human responses to climate change. I argue that our current frame of thinking about climate that I term climate-facing mischaracterizes climate and our position in it: climate-facing is inaccurately dualistic, separating climate from human life when the two are mutually constitutive and when other, nonhuman forces are also involved. Instead of climate-facing, I propose that we reimagine climate-as-assemblage, that is, as an ongoing, interactive process of co-fabrication that incorporates both humans and nonhumans. I draw from vital materialist Jane Bennett to explore the concept of assemblage, and I offer an indication of what this reconceptualization would look like for climate. Climate-as-assemblage brings to light numerous and diverse nonhuman forces, or actants, and taking these seriously requires a reconceptualization of agency that can be broadly disseminated across these instead of restricted to human subjects only. This revision—distributive agency—fits particularly well with climate, and I indicate how it might guide us on questions of climate engineering. I suggest that we should consider scholarship and action that complement climate as assemblage and that align with an ethic of distributive agency as we proceed in our relations with climate.



© Copyright 2013 Andrea Rae Gammon