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How to Prepare for the Unknown? On the Significance of Future Generations and Future Studies in Environmental Policy

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The core question of this article is: how can we take account of the future and future generations if our knowledge of the future is so sparse? The importance of the future is discussed within the framework of our (linear) concept of time. After that it is argued that future generations do not constitute a new, let alone unique, element in the debate on the future. Two different routes to acquire knowledge about the future and prepare for the future are described. Both reflect facts and values of the present and the past instead of giving an accurate picture of the future. Finally the view is defended that future-focused activity should be based to a greater extent on durable principles. Some of these durable principles are presented and discussed.

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Keywords: durable principles; environmental policy; future; future generations; time

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2001-02-01

More about this publication?
  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2016) of 1.279.
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