The Extinction of Humankind

Richard Kraut

in Against Absolute Goodness

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199844463
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919550 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Moral Theory

The Extinction of Humankind

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At some time in the future, the human species will come to an end. The laws that govern the matter of our universe make this inevitable, but it is an event that may occur far sooner than need be. This is a catastrophe that even we or our children may see looming for those who are alive several generations later. What reason would there be, in those circumstances, to take preventive action? Do earlier generations have reason to thwart a doomsday that will occur not to themselves, nor to any children or grandchildren they have, but to still more distant generations? This chapter argues that the things that are good for human beings are very great goods for those human beings, in comparison with the benefits that other living things possess. We should want others to have those goods, and the strength of our desire should be commensurate with the magnitude of those goods. We should not care just about the generation to which we belong.

Keywords: human life; extinction; doomsday; future generations

Chapter.  1134 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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