Wrongful Harm to Future Generations: The Case of Climate Change

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Abstract:

In this article I argue that governments are justified in addressing the potential for human induced climate damages on the basis of future generations' rights to bodily integrity and personal property. First, although future generations' entitlements to property originate in our present entitlements, the principle of self-ownership requires us to take 'reasonable care' of the products of future labour. Second, while Parfit's non-identity problem has as yet no satisfactory solution, the present absence of an equilibrium between theory and intuitions justifies a precautionary approach, i.e. treating climate damage as a wrongful harm. In addition, a supplementary consideration is described as arising from transcendental needs.

Keywords: climate change; future generations; non-identity problem; wrongful harm

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3197/096327108X368494

Publication date: November 1, 2008

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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 an impact factor (2013) of 1.739.
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