Chapter

Our Obligations to Future Generations

Wilfred Beckerman and Joanna Pasek

in Justice, Posterity, and the Environment

Published in print May 2001 | ISBN: 9780199245086
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598784 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199245088.003.0007
 Our Obligations to Future Generations

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Even if future generations have no rights and intergenerational justice, intergenerational egalitarianism, and sustainable development are all flawed, this does relieve us of a moral obligation to take account of the impact of our policies on the interests of future generations. In this chapter we argue that whereas, in the very long run, it seems that widespread acute poverty will be eliminated and a decent environment will be preserved, there seems to be no prospect of ever eradicating the inherent weaknesses of the human psyche that are responsible for some groups in society imposing intolerable suffering on others. Hence, it seems that the most valuable bequest we could make to future generations would be a more decent, tolerant, and ‘just’ society than the one in which most people live today. Furthermore, there is clear evidence that the greatest environmental damage has been done in countries where there has been the least respect for basic human rights.

Keywords: environment; human rights; interests; justice; policy; poverty

Chapter.  8882 words. 

Subjects: Environment

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