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The Future - For Better or Worse

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Alan Carter correctly argues that Thomas Schwartz's 'future persons paradox' applies with equal force to utilitarianism, rights theory and Aristotelian ethics. His criticism of Rawls's 'justice between generations' is less successful, because of his failure (and perhaps Rawls's as well) to fully appreciate the hypothetical nature of the 'original position'. Carter's attempt to refute Schwartz's argument by focusing on the individuality of moral action fails, since it evades the essential point of Schwartz's argument. The best response to Schwartz is to concede the essential validity of his argument and then to turn that argument into an ad absurdum refutation of his central premise,'the person affecting principle'.

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Keywords: Alan Carter; Thomas Schwartz; future generations; future persons; person affecting principle; posterity

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-02-01

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  • 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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