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Can We Harm Future People?

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  • Alan Carter
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    Abstract

    It appears to have been established that it is not possible for us to harm distant future generations by failing to adopt long-range welfare policies which would conserve resources or limit pollution. By exploring a number of possible worlds, the present article shows, first, that the argument appears to be at least as telling against Aristotelian, rights-based and Rawlsian approaches as it seems to be against utilitarianism, but second, and most importantly, that it only holds if we fail to view moral agents as individuals. The article also concludes that the argument has profoundly counter-intuitive implications.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by White Horse Press in its journal Environmental Values.

    Volume (Year): 10 (2001)
    Issue (Month): 4 (November)
    Pages: 429-454

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    Handle: RePEc:env:journl:ev10:ev1020

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    Web page: http://www.erica.demon.co.uk

    Related research

    Keywords: future generations; Schwartz; Parfit; non-identity problem; person-affecting principle;

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    Cited by:
    1. Matthew Cotton, 2013. "Deliberating Intergenerational Environmental Equity: A Pragmatic, Future Studies Approach," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 22(3), pages 317-337, June.
    2. Alan Carter, 2011. "Towards a Multidimensional, Environmentalist Ethic," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 20(3), pages 347-374, August.

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